While debate over the “fiscal cliff” continues to rage in Congress between Democrats and Republicans, and between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, a key issue remains unresolved—the fate of the Bush tax cuts. Since the beginning of his first term, Obama has called for the wealthiest Americans to pay their “fair share” of taxes. He has argued for a return to Clinton-era tax rates, when the country’s economy surged and President Clinton left office with a healthy budget surplus.
Republicans, none more stringently than Grover Norquist, claim that higher taxes will hurt growth, and stymie the recovery. But there is little evidence to back that up. A recent study by the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found no correlation between lowering top tax rates and economic growth—an ideological uppercut to Republicans who, led by Mitch McConnell in the Senate, cried foul and had it withdrawn. Many millionaires and billionaires, meanwhile, have reached the conclusion that in order to begin chipping away at the budget deficit, it is essential to raise the marginal tax rates for the wealthiest Americans. Here we present five members of “the 1 percent” asking to pay more in taxes.
For the past two years, billionaire hedge fund manager Warren Buffett has carried the torch in advocating higher taxes for the rich. Ever since The New York Times published Buffett’s op-ed (“Stop Coddling the Rich”), President Obama has dubbed a proposed tax increase for millionaires and billionaires the “Buffett Rule.” In a more recent Times op-ed piece, Buffett newly argued for a higher minimum tax rate for the richest Americans:
Additionally, we need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes. I would suggest 30 percent of taxable income between $1 million and $10 million, and 35 percent on amounts above that. A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultra-rich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours. Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy.
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Microsoft founder and billionaire Bill Gates is well known for his close relationship with Warren Buffett, who is one of three trustees in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and has pledged most of his sizable portion to the philanthropic organization. Gates has spoken out on the need to address the budget deficit, in part by raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans.
“I hope we can solve that deficit problem with a sense of shared sacrifice — where everybody would feel like they’re doing their part,” Gates told the BBC earlier this year. “And right now, I don’t feel like people like myself are paying as much as we should.”
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“I think if that’s what it took to make the math work, when you looked at the entitlement side and you looked at the revenue side, I wouldn’t preclude that,” Blankfein said on CNN. “Of course we would have to do that if the numbers drive that way.”
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Founder of Ask.com Garrett Gruener is a member of Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a group lobbying Congress for higher taxes. Like Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein, Gruener advocates returning to Clinton-era tax rates. When asked by a PBS interviewer why he favored this approach, Gruener responded, “We think that, you know, like other Americans, we love this country, and that those in the upper 1 percent essentially have been treated too good for their own sake, too good for the sake of the country. We have all done very well, and it’s time to give back.”
Ron Garret is a former Google software engineer and former Principal Research Scientist at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as a member of Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength. In a recent appearance on Fox Business, Garret made the case for higher taxes on the wealthy.”There is this myth that raising taxes on rich people is a job-killer. That’s simply not true,” Garret said.