The Headlines:

Millionaires Like Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax by Ross Snel/The Hill June 12, 2019

Most millionaires support a tax on wealth above $50 million, CNBC survey says by Robert Frank/CNBC June 12 2019

Majority of American millionaires support a wealth tax on American millionaires by Cory Doctorow/BoingBoing June 14 2019

The Story:

Spectrem Group, a wealth management research firm, conducts a semi-annual survey of 750 millionaires for CNBC, aka the “CNBC Millionaire Survey”. The latest survey asked respondents whether they supported Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal. Fully 60% did support the wealth tax, including 88% of Democrats, 62% of independents and 36% of Republicans. Unfortunately, none of the news stories reported the exact wording of the survey item, nor was it provided by CNBC or Spectrem Group. I have since contacted CNBC for more information on the survey wording but so far no one has gotten back to me.

The survey’s wording is important, because we need to know what the millionaires are supporting. For instance, I’d want to know:

Were the millionaires provided a description of the Warren tax proposal?

If so, was the description accurate and unbiased?

Did the description include details that distinguish Warren’s wealth tax from other types of wealth tax, e.g., that assets subject to the tax included business assets like patents, buildings, inventory, and equipment? The value of which would be assessed yearly.

If there was no description of Warren’s specific proposal, were there other survey items that addressed the respondents’ familiarity with the tax plan?

Did the survey item include unbiased information about potential tax revenue from Warren’s plan - not just the projected revenue figures provided by Warren’s economists?

At the very least, the survey could have asked the respondents how much they had seen, read or heard about Warren’s wealth tax, as a Morning Consult survey did earlier this year. In that particular survey, the majority of high income participants responded “not much” or “not at all” to the question. Just 15% of the high income group responded they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about Warren’s wealth tax plan.

If most millionaires support Warren’s plan but know little if anything about it, what does that tell us? Maybe that rich people care about more than their own enrichment.

What it doesn’t tell us is whether Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan is a good idea.