New Poll Finds Liberals and Conservatives Agree: Tax the Super-Rich

New Poll Finds Liberals and Conservatives Agree: Tax the Super-Rich

By Yuval Rosenberg and Michael Rainey
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Good evening. Former senator and Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman has died at age 82 due to complications from a fall, according to a statement from his family. And Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel laureate who debunked the idea that people are rational economic actors and helped give rise to the field of behavioral economics, died at age 90.

Here's what else is happening.

Poll Finds Liberals and Conservatives Agree: Tax the Super-Rich

President Joe Biden has proposed a number of tax hikes on wealthy households and corporations, and it looks like some of his proposals — including a 25% minimum tax on billionaires — could win backing from voters across the political spectrum.

According to a new Bloomberg News/Morning Consult poll, 69% of voters in seven swing states — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — said they agree with the idea of raising taxes on billionaires. The same percentage said they agree with raising taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year, a much lower threshold and one that the Biden administration has used as shorthand for the wealthy.

Support for a billionaire tax included majorities in both major parties, with 83% of Democrats expressing approval along with 58% of Republicans and 66% of independents.

“It seems that everybody is for taxing the rich,” Eli Yokley, an analyst for Morning Consult, told Bloomberg. “This is a good populist issue for the Biden campaign,” he added, since widespread support for higher taxes on the wealthy “could give him some leeway with Congress when it comes to extending the Trump tax cuts.”

Still, the poll has some bad news for Biden, too. More voters said they trust former president Donald Trump to handle tax policy, with the leading Republican presidential candidate beating Biden 47% to 35% on that issue.

Swing state voters were divided on Trump’s proposed universal 10% tariff on imported goods, raised to 60% for goods made in China, with half of respondents saying they support the idea, and a quarter saying they do not. Extending the 2017 Trump tax cuts past 2025, when many of the individual provisions expire, was more popular. Just 32% of respondents said they want those tax cuts to come to an end, as currently scheduled.


Rebuilding Baltimore Bridge ‘Will Not Be Quick or Easy or Cheap,’ Buttigieg Says

A day after President Joe Biden said the federal government would foot the bill for rebuilding the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told reporters Wednesday that it’s too soon to assess the costs involved.

“Rebuilding will not be quick or easy or cheap, but we will get it done," he said at a White House press briefing. He added: “We don’t have dollar estimates yet, but we actually have provisions that allow us to begin releasing funding even while that is being determined.”

Buttigieg said that the Maryland Department of Transportation had submitted an emergency funding request, and that the U.S. government may have some infrastructure funding available from the bipartisan infrastructure law enacted in 2021.

“The infrastructure law did authorize funding into the emergency relief account, which is the mechanism that is most likely to come into play here. Last I checked, there was about $950 million available, but also a long line of needs and projects behind that. So it is certainly possible — I would go so far as to say likely — that we may be turning to Congress in order to help top up those funds, but that shouldn’t be a barrier to the immediate next few days beginning to get the ball rolling.”

Asked whether the administration will be looking to recoup costs from the shipping company, Buttigieg said that any private party found responsible would be held accountable. “Our emphasis and the president’s goal is to make sure that that process is not something we have to wait for in order to support Maryland with the funds that they need,” he said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in an interview on MSNBC that she expects insurance may also cover some of the costs of reconstruction. “My expectation would be that, ultimately, there’ll be insurance payments in part to cover this,” Yellen said. “But we don’t want to allow worrying about where the financing is coming to hold up reconstruction.”

Number of the Day: $83 Billion

The Medicare system is paying 22% more to private insurers in the Medicare Advantage program than it would pay in the regular Medicare system for the same services — translating to an estimated $83 billion in higher payments in 2024, according to a report out this month from a nonpartisan advisory group.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which Congress established in 1997 to provide lawmakers with expert advice on the administration of the Medicare program, says it “is concerned that the relatively higher payments to [Medicare Advantage] plans are subsidized by the taxpayers and beneficiaries who fund the program.”

The report also says that there is no evidence that private insurers have ever saved money for the Medicare program through efficiencies or competition. “Our review of private plan payments suggests that over a 39-year history, the many iterations of full-risk contracting with private plans have never yielded aggregate savings for the Medicare program,” the report reads. “Throughout the history of Medicare managed care, [Medicare Advantage] has paid more than it would have paid if beneficiaries had been in [fee for service] Medicare.”

MarketWatch’s Brett Arends, who highlighted the report, said the report shows that private insurers are “overcharging the taxpayers” — even if that is exactly how the Medicare Advantage system is designed to work. “They are charging us taxpayers 22% more than it would cost us to provide the same health insurance to seniors directly, if we just cut out the private insurance companies as middlemen,” he wrote. “It’s a rip-off, pure and simple.”

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