Patriotic Millionaires

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While the New York Post reported Wednesday that more than 80 percent of Americans believe that keeping the Bush tax cuts is “a priority,” more than 80 millionaires are asking President Barack Obama to “please let the Bush tax cuts expire and raise our taxes.”

In a letter addressed to the President, the millionaires make their case, saying that as successful Americans they are ready and willing to do their “fair share.”

“For the fiscal health of our nation and the well-being of our fellow citizens, we ask that you allow tax cuts on incomes over $1,000,000 to expire at the end of this year as scheduled,” they write. “We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more.”

The Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, include musician Moby, Men’s Warehouse CEO George Zimmer, Princeton Review founder John Katzman, and Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Dennis Mehiel, one of the letter’s signers, told The Daily Caller that while he supports raising taxes he also believes that the country needs to get its spending under control.

“This is not the only solution,” he said. “It is not the lion’s share of the solution – if you look at the numbers – but it is an important step. For two reasons, one is that it is a serious amount of money over time and two it will send a very positive signal that the country is ready to think about beginning to get its fiscal house in order and we have a long way to go.”

Mehiel explained, that the signatories were encouraging the administration to raise taxes instead of just donating the money to the government themselves because what they gave would not be enough and while a voluntary tax system may sound good it does not work.

Guy Saperstein also signed the letter.

“I would like [Obama] to stiffen his back on the question of tax cuts for the rich. He obviously campaigned on that, mentioned it a thousand times during the campaign but the signals coming out of the White House for the last two or three weeks have shown weakness and possible capitulation on this issue. And I just wanted to let him know that some of us feel very strongly about this,” Saperstein told TheDC.

While the letter calls on the President to increase taxes on only those making over $1,000,000, Saperstein says that he would like the increase to apply to those making over $250,000 – Democrats have maintained that the tax cuts should only apply to those making below that figure.

“The reason we picked the millionaire threshold is that it is simple, easy for people to understand,” he said. “Also I see Obama almost in free fall on this issue and I thought this was a way to capture the fall at a compromise position. Plus most of the money that would be captured would be millionaire and above level.”

Ryan Ellis, tax policy director for Americans for Tax Reform, told TheDC that the fact that these individuals were already wealthy was very telling.

“Jack Kemp used to say that our tax code isn’t hardest on the rich (they can hire accountants to find loopholes). It’s hardest on those trying to get rich. These guys are pulling up the ladders,” Ellis wrote in an email to TheDC.

Mehiel said that while he does have a tax account and takes deductions, there is no inconsistency in his stance, as he does not see taxes as charity, but rather as a statement of public policy.

Saperstein also has a tax lawyer and an in-house accountant. “I assume he takes all the deductions that the law allows,” Saperstein said.

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