John Sommers II/Stringer

Economic Fairness and America’s Presidential Election

Voters in the US have shown their anger this year by turning out in droves for anti-establishment presidential candidates, both Democratic and Republican. One factor fueling voter unrest is evident: Many ordinary Americans think that the deck is stacked against them.

STANFORD/NEW YORK – Voters in the United States have shown their anger this year by turning out for anti-establishment candidates, both Democratic and Republican, in large numbers. One factor fueling voter unrest is evident: many ordinary Americans think that the deck is stacked against them. Indeed, when asked the question, “Do you think the US economic system generally favors the wealthy or is fair to most Americans?” a whopping 71% – including a majority of Republicans – said that the system favors the wealthy.

The tax system is a major source of this perception. When Americans are asked specifically about taxes, the same message emerges; a majority of voters (62%) believe that the US tax system favors the wealthy. In response to this growing resentment, both parties’ presidential candidates have promised to reestablish economic fairness and reform the tax system.

The three most prominent anti-establishment candidates have proposed starkly different tax plans. Bernie Sanders, a political independent running as a Democrat, is proposing a $15.3 trillion tax increase over the next decade. Under his plan, the wealthy would experience the biggest hikes, with the marginal tax rate on the richest Americans reaching 54.2%.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now