A group of millionaires and mayors who want to pay higher taxes have met with senior officials at the White House as the Obama administration begins to build support for raising taxes on the wealthy.
The Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength are a group of one-percenters who are lobbying Congress to try and influence the president's approach to tax policy. The group of 28 high-earners say they "stand with President Obama in support of the Buffett Rule."
Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength visited the White House Thursday, the third day in a row that outside groups have been invited for discussions over Obama's plans to secure a tax freeze on the middle class.
While the millionaires and mayors visited the White House, President Obama traveled to New York City on Thursday to view damage from Superstorm Sandy. However, Vice President Joe Biden stayed in Washington to host talks with around a dozen mayors from across the US.
Although most of the mayors on the guest list were Democrats, officials have confirmed some Republicans attended to help push higher taxes for the rich including Mayor Scott Smith of Mesa, Arizona. About 375,000 Americans have incomes of over $1,000,000, and President Obama is determined to reform taxes so that those high-earners pay more.
Earlier this week, labor leaders and CEOs met with Obama as the administration prepares to open talks with congressional leaders. Democrat and Republican lawmakers will meet the president at the White House on Friday for a summit on tax policy.
Should those talks eventually fail --- a real prospect with House speaker John Boehner saying Republicans will firmly resist any tax rises on the rich --- automatic budget cuts and tax hikes could kick in at the end of the year. Economists have warned that such a "fiscal cliff" could mean the country returns to a recession.
The Patriotic Millionaires group includes director Norman Lear and actor Edie Falco, though White House officials have not revealed who visited Washington on Thursday.
Speaking to Mother Jones before Thursday's meeting, T.J. Zlotnitsky, chairman and CEO of iControl Systems and member of Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, rubbished the idea that higher taxes for the rich damages job creation:
"When it's time for my company to hire someone, I don't make a decision based on my personal tax rate. It's based on what my customers need. It's whether we see a new opportunity, a new concept."
"There's an assumption that everyone here is of one political persuasion. I don't think it's about that. I think it's about putting Americans first. Putting country ahead of our party. The message is that people who are fortunate in this country such as ourselves are prepared to do more for our country. Now it's up to [the GOP] to be patriotic as well."