Two years ago, a group of uber-wealthy businesspeople got together to lobby over a shared purpose: They believed the Bush tax cuts on millionaires like themselves should be allowed to expire. Today, as Congress prepares for talks on the fiscal cliff, the group Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength is pushing its message harder than ever.
"We want [Congress] to know there are people of higher income who support higher tax rates for the wealthy," says Frank Patitucci, CEO of navigation company NuCompass Mobility Service and a member of the Patriotic Millionaires. "Doing this will help the economy... and then we do well."
The group met with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle two weeks ago. But, they say, Republicans have been far less than responsive.
This may be in part because the Patriotic Millionaires appear to be partisan. They were founded by the progressive nonprofit the Agenda Project, and they have made appearances in the past in support of President Barack Obama.
Last week, prominent investment broker Peter Schiff (a former economic advisor to Ron Paul) wrote that he believed the group was comprised of "Democrat shills masquerading as patriots" because of their simplistic message to raise taxes and what he sees as a repetition of Democratic talking points.
Patitucci acknowledges that he's a Democrat, and says he believes most of the Patriotic Millionaires are as well. But he says he has "never been to a meeting where people are asked to describe their political leanings."
Republicans have also criticized the Patriotic Millionaires for what they say has been a failure to put the money where their mouths are.
Last year, Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch wrote a letter to the group suggesting that the millionaires take their "philanthropic desire" elsewhere, by "making voluntary contributions to pay down the national debt." Financial blog Zero Hedge noted Wednesday that the group had not made any donations to the U.S. Treasury since Hatch's letter.
Patitucci calls that criticism a "cute sound byte" that didn't make any sense.
"The idea of paying taxes isn't voluntary," he says. "The idea that we would pay on a volunteer basis is a joke. ... We have to pay for what we're getting—and we're getting a lot."
Elizabeth Flock is a staff writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.