White House

1 percent field trip? Obama meets with 100 heirs at White House

The White House is pictured in Washington D.C.

The White House is pictured in Washington D.C.  (Reuters)

It was like a field trip for the 1 percent.

One-hundred young philanthropists recently descended on the White House for a chat with Obama administration officials about collaborating with the government when writing checks to charity in the future.

Many on the guest list reportedly are poised to inherit billions of dollars ... someday.

The optics of the event present an apparent clash with the administration's tough rhetoric on the class divide in this country. But the summit was designed to encourage collaboration between the government and elite private citizens, to figure out ways to potentially maximize the effect of large donations.

"It's not just seen as some old guy writing checks anymore," 26-year-old Zac Russell, who attended the meeting, told The New York Times. "It's young people who want to solve real problems."

Those problems include climate change and millennial health care, based on one guest's account that was published in the New York Times.

The meetings were held privately in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building -- but publicly, President Obama has been somewhat hostile to many in this crowd's tax bracket.

For example, in 2013, Obama said: "while we don't promise equal outcomes, we have strived to deliver equal opportunity -- the idea that success doesn't depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit."

In 2011, the president said: "Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1 percent. One percent. This is the height of unfairness."

Also in 2011, while campaigning for a second term, Obama said this: "Warren Buffett's secretary shouldn't pay a higher tax rate than Warren Buffett." 

Some critics are calling the administration out, for allegedly treating America's wealthy one way on the campaign trail, and one way behind closed doors.

"It is ironic that an administration that's spent so much time demonizing the super-rich is now sort of going after the juice box billionaires, because they are softer touches and easier marks," said Jonah Goldberg, a columnist for National Review Online.

Democrats dispute claims of a double standard, though. In fact, some on the left say that since top earners have the most resources, it makes sense to seek cash from their coffers, whether through taxes or charitable donations.

"Going to the heirs of billionaires and others that have prospered the most, and asking them to get involved in social causes is consistent with believing that the top 1 percent that's benefited the most should give back more," said Joe Trippi, a Democratic strategist and Fox News contributor.

The philanthropist event appears to have stayed on topic. One 30-year-old guest told the New York Times she worried about officials soliciting donations for the Democratic Party, but no such plea was ever made.

The White House has not responded to questions from Fox News about the event.

Peter Doocy is currently a Washington D.C.-based correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).  He joined the network in 2009 as a general assignment reporter based in the New York bureau.