Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Patriotic Millionaires Ask for Congress to Raise Their Taxes

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There’s a new group in town, and they want the Congress to raise taxes — on themselves.

Never heard of them?  Well, they call themselves the Patriotic Millionaires, and they even have their very own Web site.

Here’s a lengthy excerpt from their original letter to Congress (from patrioticmillionaires.org):

We are writing to urge you to put our country ahead of politics.

For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you increase taxes on incomes over $1,000,000.

We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.

Our country faces a choice – we can pay our debts and build for the future, or we can shirk our financial responsibilities and cripple our nation’s potential.

Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have.

Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.

There are a good many statistics on the side of their Web page, including the following facts:

  • Only 375,000 Americans have incomes of over $1,000,000.
  • Between 1979 and 2007, incomes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans rose by 281%.
  • During the Great Depression, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 68%.
  • Today, millionaires have a top marginal tax rate of 35%.
  • Reducing the income tax on top earners is one of the most inefficient ways to grow the economy according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
  • 44% of Congress people are millionaires. The tax cuts were never meant to be permanent. (emphasis added)
  • Letting tax cuts for the top 2% expire as scheduled would pay down the debt by $700 billion over the next 10 years.

The Patriotic Millionaires number two hundred strong, and are growing daily.  They believe that it’s plain, flat wrong for millionaires to be taxed at a lower effective level than people in the middle class.  And they’ve put their money where their mouths are by going to Washington on November 16, 2011, in order to lobby Congress, influential anti-tax lobbyist Grover Norquist, and others for a higher tax rate for themselves.  (Here’s a link to the story from the Los Angeles Times if you don’t believe me.)

The Patriotic Millionaires only want taxes raised on people who make one million dollars ($1,000,000) a year and above; they want no other taxes raised.  As several members of the group said (from a tape played on tonight’s The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell program), they want their taxes raised because they feel it is wrong that everyone else is suffering, while they, themselves, have gotten much richer over the course of the recession.

I’m glad the Patriotic Millionaires group exists, and I’m very glad they’re getting some airplay.  They need a whole lot more, because they’re the “job creators” the Congressional Republicans keep touting as “needing” this big tax break.  Yet this is a spurious argument, as the millionaires kept pointing out on tonight’s Last Word (link to that is here), and as quoted in this article from Yahoo News:

Patriotic Millionaire Robert Johnson, former chief economist of the U.S Senate banking committee, said that the current economic system is not broken, but it is “working on behalf of those who designed it in their favor.”

“America is no longer based on markets and capitalism, instead our economy is designed as ‘socialism for the rich’ – it is designed to ensure that the wealthiest people take all of the gains, while regular Americans cover any losses,” he said at a press conference this afternoon in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a Las Vegas economy where regular Americans put their money on the table and the richest 1 percent own the house,” he said. “And if the 1 percent happen to lose money, the 99 percent bails them out – covers their losses and then stands by watching while the house does it all over again.”

Note how well Mr. Johnson put that?  Well, he should know, being an economist — one who worked for the United States Senate Banking Committee, at that.  Yet the Congressional “Supercommittee,” which is made up of twelve members (six Rs and six Ds), is once again stalled out with regards to any tax increases because the Rs, quite predictably, are refusing.

So as you see, it doesn’t seem to matter what these millionaires say; the Congress (44% of its members being millionaires) keeps saying “no.”  And the only reason I can come up with for that is this: Congress doesn’t want to raise taxes on millionaires because such a tax increase will hurt some of its own members.  (I’d say, “Poor babies,” but I don’t even think that highly of them.)

It’s up to Congress to stop playing games and raise taxes on millionaires because it’s the only ethical, honest thing to do.  Period.

And if it hurts them, personally . . . well, that’s just too bad now, isn’t it?

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