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Public Opinion Snapshot: Public Sees Benefit in Raising Taxes on the Rich

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Conservatives never tire of telling us how terrible it would be if taxes were raised on the rich. According to them, it would be just so unfair! And, of course, the increases would be terrible for the economy. But according to a recently released Pew Research Center poll, the public disagrees.

To start, most people do not believe raising taxes on those making $250,000 or more would make the tax system more unfair. Only 21 percent of Americans endorse that idea, while more than double that number (44 percent) think raising taxes on the rich would actually make the system fairer. Another 24 percent think it would have no effect one way or the other on fairness.

Figure 1

As for the suggestion that raising taxes on the rich would hurt the economy, only 22 percent of Americans agree. Again, twice that number (44 percent) hold the directly opposite view—that raising taxes on the rich would help the economy. Another 25 percent do not think the economy would be affected negatively or positively.

Figure 2

These data suggest that conservative arguments on taxing the rich do not convince the public. On the contrary, the public is clearly open to seeing taxes rise on the affluent. Policymakers need to take note.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.

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This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here