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Even most Republicans want to tax the rich

Roughly 2 in 3 Americans overall believe the very rich should pay more taxes to support public programs, according to a new poll.

By Dan Desai Martin - January 14, 2020
Donald Trump

A majority of Americans spanning political parties agree with the idea that the wealthiest people in the country need to chip in more to help pay for government services, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday.

When asked if they support the idea that “the very rich should contribute an extra share of their total wealth each year to support public programs,” about 2 in 3 Americans (64%) agreed. Even a substantial majority of Republicans, 53%, agreed.

Among Democrats that number was even higher, with 77% supporting the statement.

The broad-based support for hiking taxes on the very wealthy did not surprise Dana Bye, campaign director of the Tax March, an organization that opposed the 2017 GOP tax bill, which cut taxes for corporations and the rich.

“Of course they do. The American people aren’t blind to the fact that the rich keep getting richer and that’s thanks in no small part to a broken theory that tax breaks for the rich trickle down to hard-working people,” Bye said in an email. “This isn’t the first poll to show how popular taxing the rich is, and it certainly won’t be the last […].”

Bye said that her organization “has every intention of continuing to remind our policymakers” of that reality.

New York Times polls from July and November 2019 also show support for a wealth tax remaining above 60%.

According to Reuters, the richest 1% of families saw their share of the national net worth grow from 27.8% in 2009 to 32.2% in 2019.

And in 2017, Republicans in Congress passed a new tax law where 80% of the benefits eventually flow to the richest 1%. Further, the bill — advocated and signed into law by Donald Trump — drastically slashed corporate taxes paid by Wall Street titans like Amazon. One analysis showed wealthy companies avoided paying more than $70 billion in taxes in the first year after the tax bill became law.

Even Trump supporters are unhappy with that fact.

“We’re taxed from one end to the other, and it just seems the rich don’t pay their share,” Kathy Herron, a Trump-supporting Republican from Santa Rosa, California, told Reuters last week.

Esin Zimmerman, a “lifelong Republican” from Minnesota, also said the richest Americans were spending their money on pointless luxuries and should be taxed at a higher rate.

“Rich people have a right to blow their money on Lamborghinis and world-wide cruises or whatever. But that money could be used in other ways that help people,” Zimmerman said.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll indicates that proposals like Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax could prove popular if she wins the Democratic nomination for president.

Warren has proposed a 2% tax on Americans with assets worth more than $50 million. Under her plan, which would pay for programs to forgive student debt and expand health care to more Americans, wealthy Americans would pay two pennies in taxes for every dollar they have over $50 million. Those worth less than $50 million, she said, would not see their taxes go up.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is also currently seeking the Democratic nomination, has released his own wealth tax proposal, starting with a 1% tax on those worth $32 million and gradually increasing to an 8% tax on those worth more than $10 billion. Like the Warren plan, non-multi-millionaire households would not be impacted by the Sanders wealth tax.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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