PIEDMONT (CBS 5) – The movement among millionaires to make the wealthy pay more in taxes didn’t start with Warren Buffett’s secretary, or even Google executive Doug Edwards, who questioned President Barack Obama on the issue last week. The discussion started in Piedmont, at civil rights attorney Guy Saperstein’s house.
“It came out of a dinner I had here, a political dinner, with people talking about how the country is going into the toilet,” recalled Saperstein.
That dinner was held last year, and it led to the formation of Patriotic Millionaires, a group of rich Americans who wonder why their taxes aren’t higher, and pledge to work to pay more.
“I had about a hundred millionaires in my Rolodex, mostly political donors, and we sent out a mailing to them,” Saperstein recalled.
Others did the same, and people like investment manager Bill Jurika of San Francisco took up the call and pledged their support.
“The reason I signed the letter is that the differentiation in taxes between wealthy and middle class and lower (class) has just gotten way too great,” said Jurika.
Many in the group claim that tax rates for capital gains – money earned through investment – should be the same as tax rates and labor. That rate is currently much lower, which is why the rich often pay lower percentages.
Some opponents of higher taxes say the wealthy always have the option to donate to government, and mandating higher taxes amounts to class warfare that will discourage investment.
Some Members of Patriotic Millionaires counter that tax rates on the wealthy have been higher historically, and that higher taxes are needed to assure that teachers and some other government workers don’t fall out of the middle class.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)