Millionaires occupy Capitol Hill? Actually, these millionaires might be defecting to our side....

A good friend in Ohio passes along this report on what happened when a Patriotic Millionaire for Fiscal Strength made his elevator pitch for higher taxes to Congresswoman Kristi Noem:

Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a group formed to resist continued tax breaks for those earning more than $1 million, urged the supercommittee to reduce deficits by tapping the wealthy. Advocacy groups warned against steep cuts to programs for seniors and others.

About 20 people with Patriotic Millionaires buttonholed lawmakers in the Capitol, asking for higher taxes.

Lawrence Benenson, vice president of Benenson Capitol Co., ran into freshman Rep. Kristi Noem, R-Idaho [sic], in an elevator.

“I’m with the Patriotic Millionaires, and we want to pay more in taxes,” he told her.

Noem grinned.

“How much more?” she asked [Lisa Mascaro, "Deficit-Panel Republicans Drawing Line on Tax Hikes," McClatchy via Columbus Dispatch, 2011.11.17].

(Apparently Rep. Noem is seeking to boost her cowgirl cred by moving out West.)

I know that when millionaires say jump, Kristi is used to saying, "How high?" But let's be specific: the Patriotic Millionaires are asking Rep. Noem and her colleagues to reject any Super Committee plan that doesn't raise the tax rate on incomes over a million dollars to at least 39.6%. According to numbers on the Patriotic Millionaires' website, that's not asking much:

  • During the Great Depression, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 68%.
  • In 1963, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 91%.
  • In 1976, millionaires had a top marginal tax rate of 70%.
  • Today, millionaires have a top marginal tax rate of 35%.

Five percentage points higher, Kristi. Still nowhere near the marginal rates that millionaires paid during the Depression or the Cold War. Can your millionaire friends handle that?

And Kristi, before you play the Orrin Hatch line of inviting the Patriotic Millionaires to voluntarily pay more taxes, read this:

To suggest that we try to tackle this problem by making individual contributions is, frankly, insulting. It is like suggesting to someone expressing a desire to serve their country by bearing arms that they buy a rifle and a plane ticket to Afghanistan.  Some problems are too big to be solved except through collective effort and shared sacrifice, and this is one of them [Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, letter to Senator Orrin Hatch, 2011.04.26].