Marketplace Scratch Pad

Rich Utilitarians

Scott Jagow Jul 28, 2009

A group called Wealth for the Common Good has launched a campaign to repeal the Bush tax cuts immediately, instead of waiting for them to expire in 2011. But this isn’t a grassroots organization of low-paid activists. These people are rich, and they want to pay more taxes.

From the group’s website:

We would see a minimal tax increase–from 35% to 39.6%, a rate still far lower than the one under President Reagan–but the increased revenue would raise an estimated $43 billion per year. This would affect a very small fraction of U.S. taxpayers–about 2.5 percent.

We believe high-income households want President Obama to move our country toward stability, fiscal responsibility and sensible taxation and investment. We call on Congress to immediately reverse the 2001 tax cuts on those of us with taxable incomes over $235,000. We should not wait.

The guy who inherited the Oscar Mayer fortune, Chuck Collins, is a co-founder of Wealth for the Common Good. Here’s what he said last week about the House health care bill that would also increase the tax burden on the wealthy:

“The proposed tax surcharge would impact those of us with the greatest capacity to pay, about one out of 100 taxpayers. That revenue could be used to pay for much needed improvements to our broken health care system, and provide coverage for over 50 million Americans who are uninsured, while protecting employer-provided health care benefits.”

Other Wealth members include Bill Gates, Sr. (yes, the father) and Eric Schoenberg, former partner of NYC investment bank. The group was formed just a few months ago, with this raison d’etre:

Over the last 30 years, we have disproportionately benefited from the economic policies. We feel it’s time rebalance the economy so that it works for everyone — not just the wealthy. Our country is facing unprecedented economic challenges right now: We all need to pay our fair share to resolve these issues and make long overdue investments in education, health, energy and infrastructure.

I’m sure any debate about this group will be divided by economic philosophy, but your thoughts are welcome anyway!

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