Half of the country’s millionaires view income inequality as a major problem, and nearly two-thirds support increasing taxes on the rich and raising the minimum wage as solutions for addressing it, according to a new survey by CNBC.
The survey polled 514 people with assets of more than $1 million, or the top 8 percent of households. While 83 percent felt that the best way to reduce inequality is to improve educational opportunities for the less well off, 64 percent cited higher taxes for the wealthy and 63 percent backed increasing the minimum wage.
They still believe in economic mobility, however. More than 90 percent said the American dream, or upward mobility from hard work, is achievable, and more than half feel that any American can become rich by working hard. They also cited hard work as the number one factor in building their own wealth and 81 percent said they aren’t embarrassed by it. Only 1 percent picked luck as a top reason.
The survey results hold extra weight given that the policy preferences of economic elites hold the biggest sway on Capitol Hill. A recent study found that while the average citizen’s desires have basically no impact on policy outcomes, the desires of the affluent have the most impact of any group studied. Other research has come to the same conclusion: the richest have the loudest voice with lawmakers.
If millionaires support an increase in the minimum wage, that might give life to the push by President Obama and Congressional Democrats to raise it to $10.10 an hour, which was recently quashed by Republicans in the Senate.
In the absence of action to curtail income inequality, however, it just keeps rising, growing faster in the years after the recession than in the entire decade before it. In 2012, the richest 10 percent took home half of the country’s income, which was the largest share ever recorded. And while the rich still believe in economic mobility, very few American children have a chance of making more than their parents and the likelihood hasn’t improved in two decades.