While President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans debate whether or nor to raise taxes on wealthy Americans, a group of millionaires is begging the President to increase taxes on the wealthy to help the country avert the impending fiscal cliff.
Two dozen members from the group, Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, are in Washington to tell lawmakers, “Tax Us, We Can Take It.” They will meet with senior officials at the White House on Thursday, but the group's press office will not disclose what exactly those talks will be about. Meetings with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are also a part of the agenda.
Formed in 2010, Patriotic Millionaires has been pushing for more tax revenue. With the national debt at more than $16 trillion, Obama has said it’s time for a new plan that involves bringing in new revenue while making major spending cuts. The millionaires want to see to it that the new revenue is found.
“We started this two years ago, now it’s time to finish it,” said Patriotic Millionaires co-coordinator Erica Payne via press release.
Obama and Congress will meet Friday to start fiscal cliff negotiations. If they cannot come to an agreement by the end of the year, tax rates will automatically increase for all tax brackets in January, accompanied by a series of automatic spending cuts, known as sequestration, that would likely send the nation back into recession.
Obama has said he doesn’t want a proposal that does not include asking the wealthy to pay more. He also wants the middle class -- those making less than $250,00 -- to be spared any tax increases.
For many Congressional Republicans, raising taxes on families making more than $250,000 or individuals making more than $200,000 is still a nonstarter.
But for the Patriotic Millionaires, they are motivated by their notions of fairness and concern for struggling Americans.
Lawrence Benenson, a partner at Benenson Capital, stated via press release that taxes on someone who owns four cars must be higher than taxes for an individual who owns a single car. “Four cars make more potholes, and the cost of fixing the road should not be shared equally,” Benenson said.
Here’s what other Patriotic Millionaires members had to say about higher taxes and the fiscal cliff:
- Former AOL Executive Charlie Fink: “There is no problem in business -- or government -- that cannot be solved with more revenue. Let the Bush tax cuts expire. Contrary to apocalyptic predictions about cliffs, the expiration of those tax cuts, never intended to be permanent, will begin the necessary work of fixing our nation's problems, and paying off our debts.”
- Woody Kaplan, chairman of The Civil Liberties List: “I agree with Speaker [John] Boehner -- we need to close tax loopholes -- the ‘carried interest’ for hedge fund managers and the mortgage deduction for luxury and second homes might be good places to start. I agree with President Obama -- we need to raise the rate on that portion of anyone’s income exceeding a quarter of a million dollars per year. Millionaires will be fruitful and multiply in a country with a transparent and fair system of taxation, and a rising middle class.”
- Guy Saperstein, venture investor: “The so-called 'fiscal cliff' is mostly a myth, and we need to stop Democrats and Republicans from hollowing out America’s thin safety net to pay for the excesses of Wall Street and tax cuts for the rich in pursuit of the false god of deficit reduction. The first priority should be rebuilding the economy and creating jobs. When jobs are created and the economy is rebuilt, revenues will increase and deficits will fall.”
- Roy Crawford, president of Elkhorn-Hazard Coal Land: “Those of us who have benefitted the most from our capitalist system should care the most about helping to get the country's budget balanced and pay down the national debt. Being a capitalist doesn't have to mean having no heart.”
- Frank Patitucci, CEO of NuCompass Mobility Services: “For us to have a free enterprise economy that works we need government to do its part. In short, free enterprise isn’t free! To continue to benefit from this great system, those of us who have benefited the most have to step up and pay our fair share.”
- Former COO of Prudential Financial Bernard Winograd: “I believe that anyone with a high income gets benefits from government that they should be willing to pay for. Our tax code has not kept pace with the increases in the share of national income being earned at the top end of the scale. An increase in taxes is something wealthy Americans are ready for.”