A group of millionaires arrived in Washington on Wednesday to lobby Capitol Hill into mandating higher taxes for the upper class.
The group of about two dozen, titled Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength (PMFS), is urging that Congress make the wealthy one percent of the country pay their “fair share” in taxes.
They would like to see a tax hike on those who currently or have in the past earned an annual income of $1,000,000 or more per year.
“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,” writes the group in an open letter to President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Producer and entrepreneur Charlie Fink, a member of the PMFS, testified before a congressional committee as well as visited members of the supercommittee, a group that is responsible for coming up with a plan to fix the country’s debt problem.
Fink lobbied to let the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire, adding, “without revenue we will never solve the problem by giving tax cuts to wealthy while supporting two foreign wars,” reports ABC News.
According to The Associated Press, the meeting was generally embraced by liberals on the hill and “tolerated” by conservatives.
"If you think the federal government can spend your money better than you can, then by all means pay more in taxes than you owe,” said Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, to AP.
Americans for Tax reform has advocated for Republicans to pledge to vote against tax hikes. Norquist suggested that the IRS have a line on the tax form where a person could write in how much they want to donate to the government.
“Just like a tip line on a restaurant receipt,” he quipped.
Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has also echoed this argument, calling on the millionaires to voluntarily donate to the government if they really want to pay more.
In response, the millionaire group published a statement on their website denying that individual donations would help reduce the deficit:
"A few of us voluntarily writing a check to the IRS will not fix the problem” that was created by “fiscal irresponsibility.”
“It will take the work of all patriotic Americans to create a strong foundation for our continued prosperity. We are willing to do our part by paying higher taxes. It is clear Senator Hatch and many of his colleagues are not willing to do theirs.”
The group went on to say that if Hatch wanted to make a personal contribution to the IRS to help his country, then the Patriotic Millionaires would match his contribution.
“Stop digging. For God’s sake, stop digging!” Fink told The Christian Post in response to a question of how Congress can help reduce the deficit.
“Cutting taxes in a time of war is unpatriotic. We are digging ourselves into a deeper hole in this country. We’ve run up a huge deficit.”
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Fink continued.
“We are the one percent in this country. A little unselfishness (on the part of the millionaires) now will go a long way in preserving our own wealth and the wealth of this nation.” He added that it will be less painful to pay now than wait years from now and suffer the consequences.
The group was formed a year ago to push for expiration of the Bush tax cuts. The Bush cuts allowed for a tax cut for the top one percent of the wealthiest in the nation. Proponents of the cuts argue that by lowering the taxes the pace of economic recovery and job creation would increase. The cuts were planned to expire at the end of 2010, but Obama extended the cuts for another two years.
The millionaires do not work directly with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which is also calling on the wealthy to take on more responsibility. But Fink said that he personally is “sympathetic to them” and thinks that the two groups are “motivated by much of the same unfairness.”
“I am hugely offended that high taxes kill jobs. There’s no evidence of that. It’s a lie that has gone unchallenged by media. We had high economic growth in the 1990s and high taxes. We also had high taxes after World War II and the deficit was paid off. I don’t want to pay 60-90 percent in taxes but if we don’t stop digging, we all will pay,” Fink said.