Speed Reads


Who wants to cut spending the most? The rich

Who wants to cut spending the most? The rich

Larry Bartels points to the fact that, unlike in other affluent democracies, in America, the desire to cut government spending is almost always much stronger among the rich, and weaker among the poor:

[Washington Post]

Paul Krugman says that "the main point to understand here is that we now know what it means when people urge us to stop talking about class, or denounce class warfare: It is essentially a demand that lower-income Americans and those upper-income Americans who care about them shut up, and stop messing with the elite desire for smaller government."

Krugman is correct — the wealthy in America favor smaller government more than the less wealthy. But what's a little baffling to me is the fact that other affluent democracies don't share America's rich-poor divide on spending cuts. And the fact that this great division exists despite the fact the United States does less to redistribute income than most other economically advanced democracies. This is not the overtaxed rich rebelling against world-leading levels of redistribution. Other countries redistribute far more with far less division between the rich and the poor on the matter.

Larry Bartels argues that the factor that explains this may be race. The only country with a bigger rich-poor divide on spending cuts than the United States is South Africa, which has a wide economic divide between its relatively wealthier white population and relatively poorer black population. Bartels points to a similar "entanglement of class and race in America, which magnifies aversion to redistribution among many affluent white Americans."