Liberal group takes credit for audience member asking Obama to raise taxes

Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a campaign by the progressive group The Agenda Project, on Tuesday took credit for a member of the audience at a town hall meeting in Silicon Valley on Monday asking President Obama to raise his taxes.

“Will you please raise my taxes?” the man said. “It kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of the tax cuts that have been benefiting so many of us for so long."

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It was a good moment for Obama, who this month has promoted the American Jobs Act, his legislation aimed at creating jobs and cutting the deficit, at events across the country. The bill includes the “Buffett rule,” which is based on a plea for higher taxes from another wealthy American, billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett.

The man, who identified himself as “unemployed by choice,” is former Google employee Doug Edwards. He is a member of the Patriotic Millionaires, a group that has released several Web videos criticizing Republican leaders for opposing tax hikes. The videos accuse GOP leaders, including House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), of not wanting taxes raised on the wealthy because they are wealthy themselves.

“Doug and his fellow Patriotic Millionaires are pounding Washington leaders to do the right thing for the country,” Erica Payne, spokeswoman for the Patriotic Millionaires, wrote in an email Tuesday night.

“Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes,” the group says in an open letter to leaders posted on its website. “We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1 million per year or more.”

Letter signers include actress Edie Falco, Princeton Review founder John Katzman, TV producer Linda Gottlieb and top executives from various financial firms and businesses like Google.

The group has been pushing for tax hikes on the wealthy since Obama extended former President George W. Bush's high-income tax cuts in 2010. In April, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Finance, sent the group a letter suggesting that individual members of the group interested in “making voluntary contributions to pay down the national debt” go to the website pay.gov in order “to make a tax-deductible charitable contribution.”

Republicans have had a similar response to Buffett, suggesting he send in a check rather than advocate a higher tax policy.

The group responded with a letter arguing that the proposal of voluntary contributions meant “letting people opt out” of paying for government spending. "Some problems are too big to be solved except through collective effort and shared sacrifice, and this is one of them,” the group wrote back.