WASHINGTON Nearly 140 millionaires asked a divided U.S. Congress on Wednesday to increase their taxes for the sake of the nation.
"Please do the right thing," the entrepreneurs and business leaders wrote President Barack Obama and congressional leaders, noting that they benefited from a sound economy and now want others to do so. "Raise our taxes."
The letter was signed by 138 members of "Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength." The group was created a year ago during a failed bid to persuade Congress to end tax cuts for millionaires enacted under Republican former President George W. Bush.
The group is now making the same request of a 12-member congressional "super committee," which is struggling to reach a bipartisan deal to cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade in order to help put the nation on sound financial footing.
Obama and his fellow Democrats have been pushing for increased taxes to help do it. But Republicans, who control the House of Representatives, have said no, arguing that tax rises on the wealthy would kill jobs.
"Patriotic Millionaires" reject such thinking.
Eric Schoenberg, chairman of CampusWorks, Inc, a higher education technology company, said if Congress ended Bush-era tax cuts it would affect him and his fellow millionaires in the group "about as much as a dead fly interrupts a picnic."
Schoenberg declined to estimate how many other millionaires agree with him, but told reporters, "There is a substantial number of people who feel like we do."
Phil Villers, founder of Computervision Corp, said: "Those of us who can afford it should step up. That is our message to the super committee. We hope they listen."
Schoenberg and Villers were among a group of about two dozen millionaires who held a news conference after attending a hearing on job creation chaired by Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
The millionaires planned a busy day, with hopes to visit a number of lawmakers, including those on the super committee.
"God bless them," Grijalva said after the millionaires appeared before his caucus. "They are successful and they are wise."
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)