The Patriotic Millionaires – more than 200 of the nation’s top entrepreneurs and business leaders — are back on Capitol Hill this week meeting with members of Congress about the looming fiscal crisis. They delivered a statement today at a press conference outlining their approach to budgetary solvency, which includes, at its core, an expiration of the Bush tax cuts for rich Americans. We’ve included a transcript of their remarks below:
On behalf of the Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, thank you for being here.
We always have some questions about our name – the Patriotic Millionaires – so let me clear that up. First, we are called “Millionaires” because each of us either makes or has made more than $1 million of income in a calendar year. To put that in perspective, that is one-tenth of 1% of the country.
We represent more than 200 of them. We are the Patriotic Millionaires because – as one member of the group put it – “We care as much about our country than we do about our money.”
If – like the millionaires standing before you today – you’ve done well in this country, if you’ve achieved what millions of Americans dream of one day having, you’ve done so because of our American system, not despite of it.
You’ve done so because of the vibrancy of our civil society.
Because of the dedication and sacrifice of the men and women serving abroad, and the police forces at home.
You’ve done so because we have a world-class public education system, that educates a skilled work force and builds human capital.
You’ve done so because businesses can move their goods safely and securely across this country, using an infrastructure funded with the tax dollars of your fellow citizens.
America is our shared investment. We were founded on a fundamental commitment, “to promote the general welfare,” not just the welfare of the rich and mighty.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office recently found that in the last thirty years, the incomes of the top 1 percent of American households grew almost 300% the bottom 5th of Americans saw their incomes grow only 18%.
Right now, the United States has the highest and fastest growing rate of inequality in the entire developed world. Last year, the earnings gap between rich and poor Americans was the widest its been in more than four decades. In 2010, the top 1 percent of Americans captured 93 percent… I repeat, 93 percent of the nation’s income growth.
Yet rich Americans – like myself, and the millionaires with me – pay an effective tax rate that is lower than a single working Mom with two kids.
And when the budget is on the chopping block, like it is now, what’s the first to go? Not the ample loopholes and deductions that allow the super wealthy to pay next to nothing in taxes. No, it’s the social programs, the vital government services, that help working American families succeed.
Hundreds of Congress members have even taken a pledge saying – despite the mounting deficit, despite the financial hardship of millions of poor- and middle-class incomes, and despite the government programs that are set to be cut – these Congress members have said they are won’t raise the taxes of the rich by. A. Single. Cent. Not a penny more.
Our return on investment in this country has been high. It’s time for us to pay America back. It is time to take a portion of the wealth we earned within the American system and to return it to the system itself.
It’s time for ordinary, working-class Americans to get a return on their investment in our country. Not just because it is the moral thing to do, but also because it is the economically sensible thing to do.
We’ve come to Washington to tell those elected politicians that would rather protect the incomes of their rich donors than help working Americans: You are on notice.
And we are going to do everything in our power to aggressively educate the American people which elected officials prioritize their wealthy contributors over the “general welfare” of 300 million people.
Specifically, we ask Congress to do the following:
- 1. Allow top tax rates to return to 36% and 39.6 and create new higher tax brackets for income over $10 million
- 2. Raise taxes on capital gains to Clinton-era levels of 20-28%
- 3. Tax dividends at the same rate as ordinary income
- 4. Reinstate a robust estate tax.
- 5. Limit the itemized deductions for the very wealthiest americans
We can right our American ship if we take these steps. We can put our country on the right track by asking the wealthiest of us to do more. And we can do so without hurting the people who need help.