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Actually, Americans Do Want to ‘Soak the Rich’

At In These Times Jim Naureckas has an interesting post, “Why Don’t the American People Want to Tax the Rich? Oh Wait, They Do: Despite what the New York Times would have you believe, Americans have said over and over that they want the wealthy to pay more.” Naureckas, editor of Extra!, the magazine of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), presents data which pulverizes Neil Irwin’s New York Times article “Why Americans Don’t Want to Soak the Rich“:

…When I look at polling over time on taxing the wealthy, what’s striking to me is how consistently popular it is. Gallup has asked 17 times since 1992 whether upper-income people pay too much, too little or their fair share of federal taxes, and every time a majority has said they pay too little. Only twice-in 2010 and 2011-have less than 60 percent said they thought the rich were not paying enough federal taxes.
The same series of Gallup polls found people saying that lower-income and middle-income people were paying either their fair share or too much in taxes. Corporations, like the wealthy, were seen as paying too little, by an even wider margin–only twice in 11 repetitions of the question did less than 66 percent say corporate taxes were not high enough.
And the Gallup results are no outlier. An AP/GfK poll from February found 68 percent saying that wealthy households pay too little in federal taxes. Politifact cited a handful of polls, with findings that range from 59 percent to 72 percent, in support of Paul Krugman’s claim that “large majorities support higher, not lower, taxes on the wealthy.”
And it’s not just taxes on the wealthy; on the relatively rare occasions when they’re asked to pick a side in the class conflict, the American people generally choose the left side of the field:
“The income gap between wealthy Americans and those who are less well off”: 51 percent called it “a major problem,” while 15 percent said it was “not a problem” (ABC News/Washington Post, 1/12-15/15)
“The economic system in this country unfairly favors powerful interests”: 62 percent agree (Pew, 2/18/15)
“Should the government do more to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor in this country?”: 55 percent say yes (CBS News, 1/9-12/15)
“The government should work to substantially reduce the income gap between the rich and the poor”: 66 percent agree (CNN/ORC, 1/31-2/2/14)
“Do you feel that the distribution of money and wealth in this country is fair, or do you feel that the money and wealth in this country should be more evenly distributed among more people?”: 62 percent called for more redistribution (CBS News, 1/17-21/14)
“How much, if anything, should the government do to reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else?”: 69 percent said “a lot” or “some”; 26 percent said “not much” or “nothing at all” (Pew, 1/15-19/14)

There are arguments about how much of a tax hike on the wealthy most Americans would like to see, and there are nuanced distinctions to be made about just who should be taxed more heavily and under what circumstances. But Irwin’s NYT piece now looks more like a pile of shreds than worthy tax policy strategy for Dems.

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