Elizabeth Warren's Tax Proposal Is Popular Even With Republicans

"Taxing the wealthy" polls pretty well, new surveys find.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is making a wealth tax on Americans who are worth more than $50 million part of her 2020 presidential campaign agenda.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is making a wealth tax on Americans who are worth more than $50 million part of her 2020 presidential campaign agenda.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) proposal for a “wealth tax” on Americans worth more than $50 million currently has significant support across party lines, new polling suggests.

The exact level of support varies from survey to survey. But in three recently released online polls, support for Warren’s plan ranges between 50 and 61 percent, with opposition languishing between 20 and 23 percent.

  • In a new Politico/Morning Consult survey, 61 percent of voters favored “a recent proposal to levy a new, 2 percent annual tax on all assets owned by households with a net worth of $50 million or more, and an additional 1 percent tax on households with a net worth of more than $1 billion.” Just 20 percent were opposed, with the rest unsure. Democratic voters supported the plan by 74 percent to 11 percent, while Republican voters backed it by 50 percent to 30 percent. (The bipartisan support is particularly notable given that, earlier in the survey, the proposal was explicitly identified as Warren’s.)

  • In the most recent Economist/YouGov poll, Americans said, 50 percent to 23 percent, that they supported “an annual 2% tax on net worth between $50 million and $1 billion and 3% tax above $1 billion,” with 27 percent unsure. Democrats favored the idea by 63 percent to 14 percent, while Republicans supported it by a narrower 46 percent to 35 percent.

  • In a poll conducted by YouGov Blue for the progressive group Data for Progress (which supports the proposal), 61 percent of voters supported “imposing a 2% tax on the assets of those with a net worth over $50 million and a 3% tax on the assets of those with a net worth over $1 billion,” with 21 percent opposed and the rest neutral or unsure. Democrats supported the measure by an overwhelming 76 percent to 6 percent, and Republicans by a more modest 44 percent to 37 percent.

Warren told Politico that she wasn’t surprised the idea polled well and that she didn’t anticipate backing away from the proposal if she won the Democratic presidential nomination. “I think I’ve already lost the billionaire vote.”

Another Democratic tax proposal ― Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s plan for a 70 percent tax rate on income over $10 million ― got less support but also polled above water in the Politico/Morning Consult survey (45 percent favoring, 32 percent opposing) and the Economist/YouGov survey (44 percent in favor, 33 percent opposed), with a third survey finding majority support.

Opinions, of course, aren’t set in stone, and views of proposals often become increasingly polarized over the course of the public debate. But more broadly, taxing the wealthy is an idea that seems to be playing well at the moment. In the Politico/Morning Consult survey, 63 percent of voters said “upper income people” pay too little in taxes. In a recent Fox News poll, voters said by a 46-percentage-point margin that they supported increasing tax rates on families making more than $10 million annually, and by a 36-point margin that they supported raising tax rates for those making upwards of $1 million.

“Public opinion often acts as a thermostat, swinging first one way and then another in response to the prevailing political currents,” The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham noted last week. “The recent polling suggests that’s exactly what’s happening right now on taxes: Americans’ growing comfort with raising taxes on the wealthy may in part be a backlash to Republicans’ success in passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

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