Wealthy patriots make the case to kill Bush’s tax cuts

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet has long been outspoken in his belief that the rich in American need to pay their fair share in the way of taxes. While a majority of Americans would agree with Buffet, it’s not something that many of our leaders in Washington seem willing to bring up, let alone champion. As we’re seeing play out right now with regard to the Bush tax cuts for the super-wealthy, which are set to expire at the end of the year, very few of our leaders seem willing to say the obvious, which is that we cannot afford them. (Furthermore, they did not spur the economy forward, as Bush had told us that they would.) Instead, we’re hearing signals from the White House that they might be willing to consider a compromise of some sort, like extending the tax breaks for the wealthy another two years. If Obama doesn’t, we’re told, he runs the risk of offending the Republicans, who, in retribution, likely wouldn’t allow for middle class tax relief legislation to move forward. (For all their talk of how important it is for us to cut our deficit, the Republican members of Congress seem a lot more concerned about preserving tax breaks for the wealthy. But, I guess that makes sense, as they’re the ones who fund political campaigns and host fundraisers.)

But, in spite of this lock-step march toward Plutocracy, Buffet, and other high net worth individuals, like Bill Gates Sr., keep pushing back – trying to find a ways, whether it be through the reinstatement of the estate tax, or the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, to keep a level American playing field. And, the good news is, they’re attracting other millionaires to their cause.

A few days ago, an organization calling itself Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength announced its existence. The organization’s 40-some members, on their website, made the following suggestion to Obama.

patrioticmill2

You’ll notice that they moved the income threshold from $250,000 per year to $1,000,000, but the important thing, at least to me, is that wealthy Americans are getting involved in the conversation, admitting that they need to do more, and framing the debate in terms of patriotism. I’d have to look at the numbers and see what moving the bar from $250,000 to $1,000,000 would mean in terms of lost revenue, but, given the choice between extending the tax cut for everyone, and extending it for just those making under one million dollars a year, I’d rather go with the latter. Hopefully, however, we can do a better job of compromising, and get it closer to $500,000. (note: over 375,000 Americans make over $1,000,000 annually.)

As for Buffet, he’s hitting the press this week. Here he is with Christiane Amanpour.

And, here’s a bit of the transcript from Talking Points Memo:

…”If anything, taxes for the lower and middle class and maybe even the upper middle class should even probably be cut further,” Buffett told ABC News in an interview set to air later this week. “But I think that people at the high end — people like myself — should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we’ve ever had it.”

“The rich are always going to say that, you know, just give us more money and we’ll go out and spend more and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you. But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on,” Buffett said in the clip from ABC News’ “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.”

So, is Buffet right – are you beginning to catch on?

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7 Comments

  1. Posted November 21, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    I thought that you might be interested in this article from TruthOut as well… Here’s a clip:

    …There is room to maneuver – Ohio’s John Boehner, the House Republican leader and soon to be speaker, said he’d vote for tax breaks for the middle class without the wealthy if that’s the only choice. There is consensus by both parties that the sluggish economy makes this the wrong time to raise taxes on the middle class. In the Senate, current Leader Reid said he will press for a vote.

    Republicans portray the Bush tax cuts as similar to President John F. Kennedy’s. That is a poor analogy. Kennedy cut the top tax rate from an exorbitant 91 percent to 70 percent. In contrast, Bush cut the top tax rate from a historically low 39.6 percent to 35 percent. By increasing enforcement and cracking down on loopholes, including the use of foreign subsidiaries for tax evasion, Kennedy increased government revenue. On the other hand, the Bush rich tax cuts will cost the nation $700 billion dollars in government revenue, and Republicans are fighting limiting outsourcing and foreign loopholes. In part due to a smart taxation policy, Kennedy created 1.2 million jobs per year in office; Bush was losing 700,000 jobs a month his last year.

    The current political climate is hostile to real accountability – and to the kind of journalism that keeps accountability alive. Keep lawmakers and corporations in check by supporting Truthout today.

    “Trickle-down” economics has not worked since Herbert Hoover tried it. Every dollar devoted to the middle class causes the economy to grow three times faster than a dollar for the rich, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Millionaires save more of their income gained by tax cuts. Middle-class families spend more. Lower taxes for the rich leave deficits that must be paid for by the middle class, taking the very money we’d give working families.

    Since 1900, Democratic presidents have produced a 12.3 percent annual return on the S&P 500, Republicans only 8 percent. GDP growth since 1930 is 5.4 percent for Democratic presidents and 1.6 percent for Republicans.

    President Bush inherited from Bill Clinton an annual federal budget surplus of $236 billion, the largest in American history. Clinton balanced the budget for the first time since 1969. Budget surpluses were expected to total $5.6 trillion between FY 2002 and 2011. Despite this, Bush transformed these surpluses into a $1.1 trillion annual deficit in just three years, because of Iraq and his relentless push for permanent tax cuts for wealthy Americans – a new iteration of Hoover’s equally catastrophic trickle-down theory. Bragging about a $239 billion deficit set such a low standard for excellence that he can claim horrific failure as a good thing for the country. The Bush annual loss of three-quarter trillion dollars is totally unprecedented.

    Bush presided over the loss of two million American jobs in his first two and one-half years and net gained three million in eight years, the worst since Hoover – and left office by generating the worst recession since the Great Depression. Clinton created 23 million jobs. It’s not rocket science to figure out the difference: Clinton, tax breaks for the middle and lower incomes who actually spend the money, no Iraq war; Bush, disproportionate tax breaks for the wealthy (50 percent to the wealthiest 1 percent by 2010), over a trillion dollars committed for a war monetarily benefiting only a few military contractors and a financial sieve for the country – a war which incidentally misfired and found no WMDs.

    Democratic presidents spread the wealth around through spending on needed social programs and targeting tax cuts to lower- and middle-income Americans – stimulating the economy more broadly. Republicans pump into defense contractors and high-income Americans, creating a significant detriment to the whole economy with larger deficits and higher interest rates.

    At a press conference on September 10, President Obama asked, “Why would we borrow money on policies that won’t help the economy and help people who don’t need help?”

    Retiring Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin), House Appropriations Committee Chairman, has complained of our limited resources now because of President Bush’s “gargantuan deficits he created with that stupid war and those stupid tax cuts paid for with our money.”

    It’s already an odd alliance – Obama and Boehner in the House, though only if both are pushed to the brink. Similarly, a Senate vote would show the country can actually get something done. It would be unfortunate if the “something” is nothing but a pander to the extremists who want the rich to get richer, at the expense of America’s workers…

  2. Tock
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately, they don’t talk about this kind of stuff on Fox News.

    Did you happen to catch these facts on the Patriotic Millionaires site?

    Between 1979 and 2007, incomes for the wealthiest 1% of Americans rose by 281%

    During the Great Depression, millionaires had a top marginal rate of 68%

    In 1963, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 91%

    In 1976, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 70%

    Today, millionaires have a top marginal tax rate of 35%

    It’s amazing that we’re fighting over 1.5%. They should be thankful we’re not rioting for another 20%.

  3. Alice B.
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 7:35 pm | Permalink

    One more for you.

    From:
    http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/columns/the-tragedy-of-how-the-richer-made-us-poorer/1135142

    Why do you think John Boehner and Mitch McConnell are so intent on renewing the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans when they know it will bust another $700 billion hole in our national treasury over 10 years and prove their hypocrisy on fiscal responsibility?

    It’s because cutting taxes for the richest Americans is the GOP’s No. 1 job. Nothing else comes close to being that important, despite the campaign rhetoric of these leading Republicans. Not reducing the deficit, not supporting the troops, not cutting taxes for the middle class, not outlawing abortion, not even, dare I say it, protecting gun rights. Boehner and McConnell are the four-star mercenary generals in a war launched by America’s corporate interests and superrich. This is what they were hired to do.

    A new, amazing book explains. In Winner-Take-All Politics, How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class, political scientists Jacob Hacker of Yale and Paul Pierson of the University of California, Berkeley, detail the operational battle plan that the superrich have been implementing for the last 30 years. With piles of cash, they’ve built an army of beholden politicians, Republicans as well as Democrats, and an array of conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute to seed ideas and feed the public their arguments.

    The agenda is simple: reduce taxes for the superrich while watering down or defeating regulation that might make the economy operate more fairly. This involves methodically stripping labor and the middle class of its political power…

  4. wetdolphinmissile
    Posted November 21, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    they cannot let Obama make good on his campaign promise…the millionaires will win and pay for it with our social security, our own retirement dollars will pay for this hole. the black hole of the last 10 years of war.

  5. Knox
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    It’s a shame that this isn’t getting a fraction of the media attention that the TSA’s pat downs are getting.

  6. Edward
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Do people know this?

    In 1963, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 91%

    In 1976, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 70%

    Today, millionaires have a top marginal tax rate of 35%

    I can’t believe we’re fighting over 1.5%. Why have the Dems set their sites on a return to 36.5%? Why is that the ceiling? Why not push for 40% and settle for 37.5% Why are we so fucking timid? Where are the voices of people demanding 50%? Do they even exist anymore?

  7. Silky
    Posted November 22, 2010 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    Bloomberg is covering it today:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-21/warren-buffett-tells-abc-rich-people-should-pay-more-in-taxes.html

One Trackback

  1. By Estate Tax good. American aristocracy bad. on September 11, 2014 at 7:28 am

    […] add that not all wealthy Americans are blind to the risk that comes with severe wealth inequality. Bill Gates Sr., Warren Buffet and a few other billionaires have come out over the past several years…. They know that stability is important, and, more importantly, they know that they couldn’t […]

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