A group of self-described liberal millionaires seeking to raise taxes on the top 1 percent of America’s population, refused -- when questioned by CNSNews.com -- to consider making donations themselves to a Treasury Department Web site that allows the public to make contributions to help pay down the public debt.
The “Patriotic Millionaires" group held a conference call on Monday in advance of the10th anniversary of President George W. Bush's tax cuts to encourage President Barack Obama and Congress to raise taxes for Americans who make $1 million or more annually.
CNSNews.com asked the liberal millionaires this question: “The Treasury Department has a Web site -- pay.gov -- where anyone who wants to can make a contribution at any time to pay down the federal debt. Are you willing to make a contribution to pay down the debt and, if so, how much would it be?”
Dennis Mehiel, the principal shareholder and chairman of the board of U.S. Corrugated, called the notion that he and his fellow millionaires would consider donating some of their millions to the Treasury Department to help eliminate the deficit “preposterous on its face.”
“I think that’s the silliest of all things that I’ve heard in this discussion. I really do,” Mehiel told CNSNews.com. “And I’m not pointing that at the reporter. I know that there are many people in Washington on the other side of this debate that have advanced that argument and it’s just preposterous on its face."
“We have a system here," said Mehiel. "We have an Internal Revenue Service, we have a system of compulsory taxation, and everybody gets treated the same under the law. We disagree with what the law is right now, and think that its outcomes are unfair."
"But the idea that people are just going to send in $1 million or $500,000 or $5 million or something to reduce the national debt, it’s just preposterous on its face," he said. "We need a structural change in our tax system to put our fiscal house back in order. That’s what we need.”
Paul Egerman, the founder of Escription, also refused to consider making a contribution.
He said: “I agree 100 percent with what Dennis said. Basically, running a government is the shared responsibility of its citizens. It’s a simple concept of government; government is not a charity. You can’t imagine a situation where say, for example, the Department for Defense holds a bake sale in order to build an aircraft carrier. We have to raise taxes."
The conference call was a preface to a video message being released on June 7 urging House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and members of Congress to raise taxes on people who make more than $1 million annually.
Egerman, who said during the news conference, "I have more money than I could possibly imagine," also claimed that Speaker Boehner and congressional Republicans were “incapable of simple arithmetic.”
“(I) have to say it absolutely drives me crazy, absolutely drives me crazy when I hear John Boehner and Republicans say, 'Our country is broke” and therefore we have to cut expenses,'" said Egerman. "'We have to cut Medicare, we can’t afford to pay our teachers, we can’t afford to help the poor people in Joplin (the survivors of the Tornado) because our country is broke.' And I think sometimes the Republicans and John Boehner cannot do simple arithmetic."
Mehiel was equally contemptuous of GOP efforts to reduce spending.
“The country is broke because they decided specifically to substantially lower the revenue that the government collects," he said. "At the same time, by the way, they were increasing expenditures very, very significantly without a care in the world as to what it meant to the deficit and the overall fiscal policy of the country. And we are now bearing the fruit of those decisions and we have to do things a little differently."
Patriotic Millionaires began in November of 2010 , and is part of the Agenda Project, the brainchild of a former deputy national finance director of the Democratic National Committee, Erica Payne.