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Buffett touches a nerve with plea for more taxes

CARLOS BARRIA / Reuters

Warren Buffett could afford to eat as much ice cream as he wants, even if he paid more in taxes.

Billionaire Warren Buffett struck a nerve with an opinion piece in the New York Times Monday in which he complained about Congress "coddling" super-rich Americans like him.

The article was an instant hit on the Internet, with Buffett rising to No. 3 on Google's list of top trends, and the article's headline "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich," a trending topic on Twitter.

Buffett, who ranks as the world's third-richest person with a personal net worth of $50 billion, according to Forbes magazine, said his federal taxes were 17.4 percent of  his taxable income last year, a lower percentage than "any of the other 20 people in our office," who paid an average 36 percent tax rate.

Buffett urged Congress, including the "supercommittee" charged with coming up with more than $1 billion in measures to trim federal budget deficits, to raise rates on the taxable income in excess of $1 million annually and to raise tax rates on  course, dividends and capital gains.

Or, as the BBC's website put it: "Warren Buffett demands to pay more tax."

Our msnbc.com vote on the topic generated more than 20,000 responses in a little more than an hour, with 95 percent of our readers agreeing with Buffett's conclusion that the super-rich are coddled and should be taxed more.