As Congress ponders the "Buffett rule," President Obama's plan to increase tax rates for millionaires, lawmakers might have to look in the mirror. While about 1 percent of Americans fall into the millionaire category, almost half of Congress does. Congress has 244 members -- 138 Republicans and 106 Democrats -- with a net worth of at least $1 million in 2009, according to the Open Secrets blog.
Investor Warren Buffett triggered the recent push for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans when he complained in the The New York Times that "...we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks."
Buffett and his friend Bill Gates are still at the top of the heap when it comes to net worth. This week, Forbes magazine released its annual list of the 400 richest people in the U.S. Gates, 55, has a net worth of $59 billion. Buffet, 81, is worth $39 billion. Both men have pledged to donate at least half of their wealth to charity, either during their lifetimes or after they die, and have persuaded 70 of their fellow wealthy friends to do the same. Browse the entire Forbes 400 list here.
Out of the Closet: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the military's ban on gays openly serving in the armed forces, ended this week after 18 years. Members of the military celebrated by coming out to friends and colleagues; some got married. National Public Radio talked to 47-year-old Marine Maj. Darrel Choat, who wrote an essay about his experience as a gay Marine in an upcoming book, The End of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Choat, who joined the Corps at 34 and served two tours in Iraq, tells NPR, "I'm an American, I'm a Marine, I haven't done anything but serve my country honorably. That's it."
Baseball Milestone: New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, 41, set the record for saves with No. 602 this week. Rivera, who was born in Panama, tells The New York Times after the record-setting game: "I can't describe that feeling because it was priceless."
What's America's Best City? Raleigh, N.C., can claim that honor, says Businessweek. The magazine crunched data on quality of life, number of restaurants, school scores, and the number of colleges and professional sports teams to come up with its list of America's 50 best cities, and the southern charmer came out on top. Other winners included Irvine, Calif., and Arlington, Va., along with Honolulu and Anchorage.
Human Downsizing: Is the world around you growing, or are you getting shorter? Probably the latter. According to The Wall Street Journal, it's not unusual for a person to shrink a quarter to a third of an inch every decade after age 40 -- a phenomenon the story compares to "a house settling on its foundation." The process can be hastened by unhealthy habits such as alcohol abuse and smoking.
AARP Celebrates in LA: AARP holds its annual national event, "Life @ 50+," in Los Angeles this week, and the conference continues through Saturday. This year's theme is "When I Grow Up." Participants will find exhibits and discussions of health, travel, relationships, volunteering and more. And of course it's never too early to plan ahead for next year: The 2012 conference is scheduled for New Orleans.
Website of the Week: The Associated Press is now publishing a weekly update of the top iPhone and iPad apps from Apple's App Store so you can see what everyone else is downloading. No surprise -- games led the first week's list.
Last Word: "It pushes you toward new horizons because if people believe in you, you have to jump higher. There's a little pressure and it's very humbling to me." -- New Jersey silversmith Ubaldo Vitali, 67, the oldest of the 22 recipients of a $500,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius grants" announced this week