Higher Taxes on the Rich? Americans Overwhelmingly Say Yes

Higher Taxes on the Rich? Americans Overwhelmingly Say Yes

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President Trump has sought to tar Democrats as socialists, and his 2020 campaign spokesperson responded to Bernie Sanders’ announcement Tuesday that he’s making another bid for the White House by saying, in part, that “the American people will reject an agenda of sky-high tax rates.”

But taxing the rich more remains wildly popular, according to a new SurveyMonkey poll conducted for The New York Times — and nearly two-thirds of voters say the government should try to reduce inequality.

The online survey of 9,974 adults was conducted from February 4 to 10. It has a modeled error estimate of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points.

Among the poll’s findings:

  • More than 60 percent of Americans, including 51 percent of Republicans, support the proposal by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) to introduce a tax of 2 percent on households with a net worth above $50 million.
  • A slight majority of Americans supports a 70 percent top tax rate on incomes above $10 million a year, as suggested by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
  • Sixty-two percent of Americans — including 87 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents — say the government should pursue policies to reduce the wealth gap. “Nearly two-thirds of Democrats say it is immoral to have an economic system where some people have billions of dollars while others have very little,” The Times’ Ben Casselman and Jim Tankersley report.

The latest poll results are in line with those of other recent surveys. Whether those poll numbers translate to electoral success is a whole other matter, though. “Polls by Gallup and other organizations over the decades have regularly found that a majority of Americans believe that corporations and the wealthy pay too little in taxes, but voters have frequently elected presidents who cut those taxes, instead,” Casselman and Tankersley write.

But the emphasis on taxing the rich among progressive candidates may make it more likely that taxes on top earners go up if Democrats win in 2020. At least that’s what progressive policy experts envision. “I bet it will be a lot of medium-sized things,” Michael Linden, a fellow at the liberal Roosevelt Institute, tells the Times. “A higher top rate, for sure. Rooting out or limiting some of the tax expenditures that disproportionately benefit the rich. I think the corporate rate will start to creep back up. And I think new taxes like a wealth tax, or some other form of capital taxation, are very likely.”