McDonnell was asked during an interview with Chuck Todd about his use of the term “class warfare.” The Virginia Governor hinted that President Obama was behind the 99 Percent Movement, before moving on to defend the 1 percent. “If you look at who contributes most to philanthropy in this country,” said McDonnell, “I guess it’s that 1 percent”:
TODD: You just used the phrase “class warfare.” Do you think Speaker Gingrich and Rick Perry are tiptoeing on the line of class warfare on these attacks on Bain?
MCDONNELL: No, but I think President Obama is. This 99 percent versus 1 is the epitome of that. If you look at who contributes most to philanthropy in this country, I guess it’s that 1 percent. I think these attacks are really unfounded and one that undermine the basic tenets of the American dream. We ought to celebrate more people being able to be successful and making it financially or politically or any other measure of success and not criticize. I think that’s not healthy for our country and people that have shown success in any walk of life ought to be uplifted as a model.
In fact, as a percentage of their income, poorer individuals tend to give at far higher rates than the wealthy. The 2000 Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey found that those making less than $20,000 per year gave away 4.6 percent of their income, while those making more than $100,000 gave just 3.1 percent.
In terms of overall dollars given, the top 0.5 percent in income earners (annual income over $1 million) donate approximately half of all charitable proceeds, but the percentage of their income donated significantly lags individuals of more modest means.
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But the fact that the working poor sacrifice the highest percentage of their income is also important. Charitable giving is more than just a source of money to fund nonprofit activities; it is an expression of how communities band together to meet common goals.