We’re all socialists now

WE’RE ALL SOCIALISTS NOW…. In general, conservatives are outraged by the very idea of limits on executive compensation, even when it comes to private businesses bolstered by public funds. To even consider compensation limits smacks of socialism, the argument goes, and represents abusive government intervention into the private sector.

As it turns out, the public doesn’t quite see it that way.

American voters say 81 – 16 percent that the government should limit executive compensation at companies receiving federal help, and say 47 – 44 percent that boards of directors and top managers at these companies should be forced to resign, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

Support for income limits is strong among Democrats, Republicans and independent voters and in all income groups, but the call for forced resignations drops as income rises.

In an interesting twist, nearly one in three Americans support compensation limits on companies that do not receive bailout funds.

Regardless, support for limits on executive compensation is as broad as it is one-sided. Consider the partisan breakdown: 89% of Democrats support limits, as do 80% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans. Yep, three out of four self-identified Republicans want to see “the government … limit the amount of money that companies that are taking federal funds pay their executives.”

In February, when some Democrats recommended tying compensation limits to federal bailout money, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked, “[I]s this still America? Do we really tell people how to run [a business], and who to pay and how much to pay?”

For 81% of the country, the answer appears to be, “Yes, we do.”

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.