In the midst of the furor over President Obama’s tax cut deal with the Republicans, a group of wealthy Americans has come out against extending the Bush-era tax cuts for high income individuals, and Warren Buffett and Bill Gates had 17 more billionaires join their pledge to give away their fortunes.
On Wednesday, the groups Wealth for the Common Good and Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength joined forces to call upon Congress to allow the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy expire.
In a statement, Alison Goldberg, spokesperson for Wealth for the Common Good, said, “We’re alarmed that President Obama is compromising on high-income tax cuts. Hundreds of the people who would benefit from high-income tax cuts are speaking out that they don’t think their tax cuts should be extended.”
Taxes aren’t the only way some of the wealthy are trying to divest themselves of some of their money. As the fight rages on in Washington, more and more outside the Beltway are turning their attention to ways in which philanthropy can benefit those in need.
In fact, on Thursday, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg was among the 17 billionaires who joined the ranks of Buffett and Gates’ campaign to get the super wealthy to agree to donate large amounts of their personal fortunes. The Giving Pledge, launched by Gates and Buffett in June, now has a total of 57 billionaires in its ranks. It does not accept donations or tell people what to do with their wealth; it acts as a pledge repository, asking billionaires to make a “moral commitment to give their fortunes to charity.”
Another philanthropic project, a website called Redefine Christmas, asks people to consider making Christmas about other people instead of themselves. They suggest giving charitable donations in the names of those on their gift lists, instead of buying gadgets, and advocate that people ask for donations to be made in their names instead of registering their wish lists at online shops. Redefine Christmas is advocated by the likes of Sting and Harry Connick Jr.
The website Just Give has a similar idea. It allows people to go online and choose from a wealth (pun not intended) of charities, donate amounts that don’t have to be in a millionaire’s budget (gifts can be less than $25), and give nationally or locally through gift cards and recurring gifts, charity wedding registries andmemorials, and special event fundraising. Even a Scrooge can afford it.