I sat down today with a buffet of Buffetts—Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, his son Howard G. Buffett and his grandson Howard W. Buffett—to talk about Howard G.’s new book 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World. I’ll have more on the Howard’s book and his novel ideas about philanthropy and global agriculture soon, but I had a chance at the end of the interview to throw a few questions to Warren about Obamacare, the debt ceiling and his feelings about Congress. The Oracle of Omaha did not disappoint:
TIME: Were you surprised by the problems the federal government has had rolling out Obamacare?
Buffett: I’m not totally surprised. I’ve been involved in enough rollouts of big tech project before, so when you look at the scope of this, I’m not totally surprised [by the problems]. But it’s very bad that this has happened. Understandably it affects people’s attitude toward the whole concept of Obamacare. I’m glad I wasn’t in charge—I’ll put it that way [laughs].
TIME: The U.S. just manged to avoid default last week. You seemed confident at the time that default wasn’t going to happen, but the deal essentially kicked the problem down the road for a few months. How confident are you that we won’t default in the future?
Buffett: I don’t think 535 people [in Congress] could be idiotic enough to replay the debt ceiling. I mean, it ought to be off the table. By now it’s clear to everyone that it’s a polticial weapon of mass destruction. It shouldn’t’ be tied to abortion or immigration or anything else. Neither party has the right to blow the 237-year reputation of the United States, the sanctity of financial contracts. We built that reputation. Neither party should threaten to blow that up for its own good. I hope that point has gotten across to the majority, and I don’t think we’ll see it again.
TIME: Do you think that message got through to the most extreme Republicans, the ones who were driving [the default challenge]?
Buffett: No. I think not. (laughs). But I think it got home to enough of them. I mean there are maybe 80 people in that caucus. I think the disgust of the American people is so clear on that. And it’s so inappropriate. I don’t blame just the Republicans. The Democrats did it as well in the past. This is not something that should be on the table at all. They can fight about things, but don’t threaten to blow up the whole place, and the reputation that took 237 years to build, just to win this point or that point. I would hope that because the American people are so disgusted with Congress—60% say they want everyone to lose. I think both [Democratic Sen. Patty] Murray and [Republican Rep. Paul] Ryan are decent people. I hope they come up with something, and then we can have an up and down vote on something that neither side likes so much, but that they like more than kicking the can down the road again. I would applaud something that I approved 80% of, and I think a lot of the American people would. I think there’s actually small chance we’ll get something significant, but I don’t think we’ll hit the debt ceiling again.