President Obama has finally found some people to take him up on the idea of raising taxes on the rich. A small group of millionaires wants to force everyone else to fill government coffers, but don’t expect them to chip in themselves.
Calling themselves the “Patriotic Millionaires,” they jetted to Washington on Wednesday in an effort to convince supercommittee members to hike the top marginal income-tax rate to “at least” 39.6 percent. The group was heavy with dot-com money (three former Google employees) and associates of various liberal outfits like the Soros Fund, Huffington Post and the Sierra Club. Only one supercommittee member, Rep. Jim Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat, met with them.
It’s not that Republicans wouldn’t listen. The millionaires spent so much time with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, that they missed their appointment with Texas Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert. Although the millionaires’ public schedule listed a meeting with Rep. Howard Coble, North Carolina Republican, Mr. Coble’s spokesman said they blew off a meeting with staff.
A spokesman for the loaded lefties said they met with Republican supercommittee members Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. Both offices denied the meetings, saying the group met with staff.
The pro-tax plutocrats did show up for a scheduled meeting with Americans for Tax Reforms’ Grover Norquist, who offered several very good alternatives. The Buffet Rule Act, sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise, Louisiana Republican, and Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, would let anyone check a box on his 1040 tax form to pay an additional amount that would directly pay down the public debt.
The fat cats could also write a check directly to the U.S. Treasury’s “Gifts to the United States” account, which has been around since 1843. Or, they could pony up to any of the eight state “Tax Me More” funds, which accept donations from those who feel undertaxed.
The millionaires didn’t like these options. “They just want to raise taxes on other people,” Mr. Norquist told The Washington Times. “They pretend they have moral standing to demand this since it would affect them. But if any one of them had written a check to the government, they would have more credibility.”
The claim that the wealthy are undertaxed is hardly credible. The top 1 percent of earners, who make over $400,000, pay 40 percent of all income taxes. The bottom half of all earners pay only 3 percent of all taxes. The rich are paying far beyond their fair share. The way to increase revenue into the Washington leviathan is to broaden the tax base so more have skin in the game.
The Millionaire Patriots are partisan hacks intent on giving political cover to the president’s class-warfare tactics. If they really believe what they are selling, they can put their money where their mouths are and send checks to Uncle Sam. Until they do, they have no business telling others to surrender their cash to Mr. Obama.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.