As part of his pitch to the public in support of his jobs agenda, President Obama has a pretty standard argument when it comes to asking the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes.
“Whenever I talk about revenue, people start complaining about, ‘Well, is he engaging in class warfare,’ or ‘Why is he going after the wealthiest?’ Look, because I’ve been fortunate and people bought a bunch of my books, I’m in that category now. And in a perfect world with unlimited resources, nobody would have to pay any taxes. That’s not the world we live in. We live in a world where we’ve got to make choices. […]
“This is a matter of priorities. And it’s a matter of shared sacrifice. And, by the way, if you ask most wealthy Americans, they’ll tell you they’re willing to do more. They’re willing to do their fair share to help this country that they love.” [emphasis added]
As it turns out, Obama’s assessment is accurate. Warren Buffett isn’t the only rich guy willing to pay more in taxes.
A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more) support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners. […]
Explains George Walper of Spectrem: “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.'”
Ordinarily, this is about the time that Republicans start arguing that if some wealthy Americans want to pay more, they should just pick up their checkbooks and voluntarily contribute more to the treasury. No need to change tax rates, the right argues, when the government will just accept donations.
And in case that is the conservative response to the latest survey data, let’s also note just how weak the argument really is. We’re a massive, modern nation with a vast economy. We face real challenges, and they’re not the kind of challenges individuals can hope to resolve on their own through arbitrary contributions — we need cooperative solutions built around shared action.
Let’s also note the larger context about public attitudes. The vast majority of Americans believes millionaires and billionaires should pay a little more in taxes; the clear majority of self-identified Republicans believe millionaires and billionaires should pay a little more in taxes; and now the clear majority of millionaires and billionaires believe millionaires and billionaires should pay a little more in taxes.
The only people on the other side are congressional Republicans.