Progressive politicians — such as Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — are often accused of promoting ideas unacceptable to the American public, but polling has cast doubt on this conventional wisdom.
According to a new poll from The Hill and HarrisX, around two-thirds of Americans support a wealth tax on billionaires, a policy championed by both Sanders and Warren. According to the poll, 67 percent of registered voters support the policy, and 33 percent oppose it.
Among those who earn more $75,000 a year, 63 percent support a wealth tax on billionaires. Of voters making less than $75,000 a year, 70 percent support the progressive policy.
Eighty-five percent of Democrats support a wealth tax, as do 66 percent of Independents. The policy is even supported by Republicans — 47 percent of them. Fifty-three percent of GOP voters disagree.
As Daniel Cox, research fellow in polling and public opinion at the American Enterprise Institute, explained, most Americans believe that the top one percent needs to pay more in taxes.
“Increasing taxes on wealthy Americans has consistently garnered lopsided support among the public. Further, an increasing number of Americans believe that the wealthy are not paying their fair share of the tax burden.”
According to Cox, the fact that nearly half of Republican voters support the idea “suggests that while many Republicans may have reservations about raising taxes on the middle-class and the moderately well-off, when it comes to the uber-wealthy far fewer GOP voters object.”
According to a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, Vanessa Williamson, “Poll after poll demonstrates a consistent fact of American public opinion: progressive taxation is popular.”
As The Hill notes, both Sanders and Warren have suggested that the wealthiest Americans must be more aggressively taxed in order to tackle income and wealth inequality. Both candidates have also claimed that such a tax would be necessary to finance some of their more ambitious policy proposals.
According to Business Insider, Warren’s wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion in 10 years. Sanders’ proposal would raise around $4.35 trillion. The Vermont senator’s more aggressive policy would, for instance, apply to a married couple with a collective net worth above $32 million. Under Warren’s plan, couples worth less than $50 million would be exempt from the wealth tax.
Once considered a top contender for the Democratic nomination, Warren has faded away from the spotlight, plunging in the polls before finishing third in Iowa, and fourth in New Hampshire. Warren’s campaign raised $14 million in the 10 days before the Nevada caucuses, but that did not help much, given that she came in fourth.
Sanders is the Democratic frontrunner, having won the popular vote in Iowa, won the New Hampshire primary, and cruised to a landslide victory in the Silver State.