Tax the rich, Warren Buffett says -- and a majority of millionaires agree.
According to a survey from the consulting firm Spectrem Group, sixty-eight percent of millionaires -- defined as people with investments of $1 million or more -- support raising taxes on people who earn $1 million or more in income, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The survey seems to reflect the sentiments of groups like Patriotic Millionaires, an organization of wealthy citizens that has urged the government to impose higher taxes on people like themselves. It also echoes the policy recommendations of President Obama, who has called for revisions to tax law that would levy a tax rate on millionaires at least as high as that experienced by middle-class earners.
And, of course, the survey hearkens back to Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who galvanized a conversation about taxing the wealthy with a widely read New York Times Op-Ed this summer.
Spectrem's findings also seem to indicate that the grim state of the American economy -- where jobs are scarce, investment has fallen off and wages for most have flatlined -- hasn't escaped the notice of the country's more comfortable citizens.
The WSJ quotes Spectrem's George Walper as saying, "What this tells us is that there are a number of wealthy folks who said: 'Gee, we need to increase taxes to stimulate the economy. No one likes to be taxed more, but the reality is maybe it has to be done.'"
While some conservatives argue that higher taxes for the rich would discourage investment and slow economic growth, analysts have suggested that in fact this is not likely to happen. Historically, there is almost no correlation between high tax rates for the rich and a struggling national economy.
Earlier this month, a CBS News poll found that 64 percent of all Americans think millionaires should pay higher taxes -- a percentage nearly the same as the rate of millionaires in Spectrem's poll who feel the same way.
The debate over whether affluent Americans are insufficiently taxed comes during a moment when hundreds of thousands of people nationwide have taken to the streets under the banner of the Occupy movement, which is protesting, among other things, the vast income gap between the highest 1 percent of earners in the U.S. and the other 99 percent.
This week, the Congressional Budget Office released a report showing that income for the richest 1 percent of Americans grew by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007 -- compared with a rate of growth of just under 40 percent for most of the middle class. Last year, the median annual wage for U.S. workers was $26,364 -- meaning that 50 percent of Americans who earn a paycheck make less than that.
Income inequality in America has risen to such levels that the country now ranks on par with China, Uganda, Rwanda, Serbia and Cote d'Ivoire in terms of the gap between its richest and poorest citizens.