Members of Congress' deficit-reduction supercommittee face daily pressure from groups defending programs like Social Security, veterans benefits and defense spending from cuts. This week will offer something different: Millionaires insisting that their own taxes be raised.
Members of Congress’ deficit-reduction supercommittee face daily pressure from groups defending programs like Social Security, veterans benefits and defense spending from cuts. This week will offer something different: Millionaires insisting that their own taxes be raised.
A group called Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength is sending about two dozen of its members to the Capitol on Wednesday to ask lawmakers to boost taxes on people earning at least $1 million a year. They say they have planned meetings with seven members of the deficit-cutting panel or their staffs, plus others sessions including with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and even Grover Norquist, the conservative anti-tax activist.
The group claims more than 200 members, mostly Democrats and progressives, organizers say. Leaders say their ranks include Ben Cohen, a founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream; fashion figure Susie Buell; the actress Edie Falco and executives from major Internet companies like Google and Ask.com.
“Any deal reached by the supercommittee that does not ask millionaires to pay their fair share should be vetoed,” the group said Monday in an email.
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The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates there are 289,000 individuals this year earning at least $1 million in adjusted gross income, which is earnings before itemized deductions are subtracted.
The debt-cutting panel is hunting for $1.2 trillion in debt reduction over the next decade, but has been deadlocked as Democrats demand far more revenue increases than Republicans want. Looking to box Republicans into a corner politically, President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have proposed paying for some of the president’s job-creation ideas by boosting taxes on the wealthy, only to have them rejected by GOP lawmakers who say the higher levies would hurt employment.
Billionaire Warren Buffett has also pressed publicly for higher taxes on the wealthy but is not a member of Patriotic Millionaires.
Erica Payne, coordinator of the group, said its members want to tell opponents of tax increases on the rich that as creators of thousands of jobs, worries that higher taxes on millionaires will hurt job creation are unfounded.
“This is a big choice,” she said of the supercommittee’s decisions. “People on the opposite side, I think, have an obligation to their viewpoint to hear from people who don’t share their view.”
Norquist, who has gotten nearly every Republican member of Congress to sign a pledge to oppose tax increases, said he would not change his opinion.
“They asked to meet. I said `sure,'” Norquist said Monday. “I suppose somebody told them the only thing standing in the way of their wonderful act of charity is me.”
Norquist said he would inform his wealthy visitors of an Internal Revenue Service website where people can agree to contribute more taxes than they owe.