Michael Bloomberg, (right) founder of Bloomberg LP, and Lloyd Blankfein, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs Group, at the 10,000 Small Businesses (1OKSB) Partnership Event in London on December 14, 2016.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Mixed feelings about extreme wealth
At the same time, most Americans have a love-hate relationship with extreme wealth.
“There̵[ads1]7;s a growing disconnect,” the Harris report found: Six in 10 adults want to be a billionaire one day. Meanwhile, 40% said they despise billionaires. Many also said that billionaires have a responsibility to improve society, but that they are not doing enough.
As the rich get richer, 66% of adults see wealth inequality as a serious national problem, and nearly half of Americans, or 47%, think there should be a limit to wealth accumulation, the report also found.
A mobile billboard in Washington, DC, calling for higher taxes on the ultra-rich shows a photo of billionaire Jeff Bezos on May 17, 2021.
Drew Regrets | Getty Images
Of those surveyed, 24% said personal wealth should be capped at less than $1 billion, while 20% said it should be capped somewhere between $1 billion and $10 billion.
There are approximately 200 people in the United States who are currently worth more than $10 billion, according to Forbes’ annual ranking of the richest people. Among the top five, Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Elon Musk are all worth more than $100 billion.
Meanwhile, extreme wealth inequality was exacerbated by the Covid pandemic, other reports also show.
The wealthiest Americans have continued to benefit from owning stocks and real estate, especially last year when both the stock market and home values rose. As of the end of 2021, the top 1% owned a record 32.3% of the nation’s wealth.
Conversely, the share of wealth held by the bottom 90% of Americans fell since before the pandemic, to 30.2% from 30.5%.
In the Harris poll, 58% of Americans resented wealth accumulation during this period as others suffered the financial fallout caused by the sudden economic downturn.
“Right now, the average billionaire — there are about 790 of them or so in America — has a federal tax rate of 8%,” Biden tweeted.
Billionaire Minimum Income Tax would assess a 20% minimum tax on US households worth more than $100 million. Over half of the revenue can come from those worth more than $1 billion.
But despite growing public support for higher taxes on the ultra-rich, billionaire tax proposals have failed to gain traction.
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