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Rich urged to give away tax cuts

Professors start website to encourage wealthy Americans to donate their tax savings to charities.

By Teresa Mears Dec 29, 2010 6:11PM

This article is by John Christoffersen of The Associated Press.


Upset the federal government recently extended tax cuts for the rich, three professors at Yale and Cornell universities have created a website that encourages wealthy Americans to give their tax savings to charities and send a political message in the process.


The professors started to allow Americans "who have the means" to calculate what their tax cut would be and donate that amount to a charity.


"Extending the tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans is frankly unconscionable," Yale Law School professor Daniel Markovits said Wednesday. With the website's help, "donors can pledge their money to support the kinds of programs that will help families, create jobs, and set the country moving toward a just prosperity," the professors said in announcing the initiative.


Markovits, Yale political scientist Jacob Hacker, and Cornell law professor Robert Hockett started the campaign. Hacker is co-author of "Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer -- and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class."


The three recommend giving to groups such as Habitat for Humanity, Children's Aid Society and Salvation Army that they say promote fairness, economic growth and a strong middle class. They say the contributions could replicate good government policy and, in effect, draft the government as a funding partner when the donation is tax deductible.


"The collective giving together becomes almost a kind of shadow fiscal policy," Markovits said.


Congress approved the tax package and President Barack Obama signed it into law this month. It retains Bush-era tax rates for all taxpayers, including the wealthiest, a provision Obama and congressional liberals opposed. Proponents of the tax cuts argued that raising taxes in a fragile economy would hurt small businesses and job growth.


The professors say other features of the tax package, including a payroll tax cut and an extension of unemployment benefits, are acceptable but the overall package does not go far enough to help the middle class and doesn't expect enough of those who can afford to give the most.


Markovits said an earlier effort that encouraged taxpayers to donate their tax cuts to help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina resulted in about $250,000 in pledges.


Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Dec 30, 2010 3:42PM
I guess it is a crime to succeed and earn a lot of money...but it sure isn't a crime to sit around on your lazy a$$ and collect welfare, huh...
Jan 6, 2011 11:33AM
I'm amused (yet disgusted) by the way some people frame lower taxes as some kind of giveaway, as if everything that anyone produces belongs to the state, and they're doing us a favor with every cent they allow us to keep.  Of course, once you've decided you know how to spend other people's money better than they do, I suppose it's only a short step to suggest that taking that money by force is an act of virtue.  (And if you ever think every demand for taxes isn't ultimately backed by force, just try not paying.)

If these professors can persuade others to spend their money the way the professors prefer through reasoned argument, then I say more power to 'em.  Forgive me if I don't feel too bad about all the money the government is failing to hijack for their preferred causes, though.

Dec 29, 2010 11:08PM

So, who are these 'rich'? (I consider Yale law school professors rich, but I'm sure they don't fall under Markovits' definition). And after calculating the difference between what they pay in taxes (keeping in mind they pay MOST of the taxes!) and what they might have paid if the government had really stuck it to them, how much would that come to? Or is this just supposed to symbolic anyway...


Sometimes it seems that we think the 'rich' are like 18th century aristocrats who inherited their wealth as opposed to the reality which is that they generally work harder than the so-called 'working class.' And by the way, doesn't ANY spending benefit the economy? And wouldn't buying goods and services do more for the middle class than giving the money to the Salvation Army? But then I'm just a truck driver who earned 36 thou last year, so what do I know...

Jan 12, 2011 7:06PM
If I were wealthy, and not a charitable sort already, I would hardly be inclined to listen to someone who held me in such obvious contempt!
Dec 30, 2010 3:40PM

Law Professor = Idiot (in this case for sure)!!

Dec 30, 2010 3:26PM

" a just prosperity  ..."  that term   makes me want to throw up....filled with arrogance and elitism ... i guess these professors know what is "just".


Feb 5, 2011 1:57AM
These professors I assume donated every extra doller they had to certain causes I assume,I agree with the post before that says its ridiculous the government lets you keep the money you earned and is some kind of tax break,the fact is most people pay no federal income tax yet thet say that the wealthy dont pay enough,Someone who makes a $1,000,000 doller a year,pays $350,000 in federal income tax,I made $48,000 last year and  payed around $900 in fed income tax and I feel lucky I didnt pay %35 of my income,which if the world was a truly fair place I should have payed $16,000.A flat tax for everyone is the right way to go,the people who earn more will pay more(for you mathmatically challenged) A flat tax of %10 = $4800 for me,$100,00 for people making a million,thats so simple and fair,why or how could you argue against it,So anyone saying the rich dont pay there fair share are  ignorant or just jealous of successful people!!!
Jan 18, 2011 3:30PM
Why should the well off give any more then they want too. I think the government takes too much and gives to the ones they want too. I am taking care of a step-daughter who will not hold a job very long. She is on my welfare list just think what will happen to her when I am unable to keep supporting her..
Mar 8, 2011 8:59AM
Greed and envy are two of the deadly sins.  Neither look that good on the learned professors.  That said, the money's likely to do a lot more good than if the rich just pounded it down the Federal government rathole.
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