What Do U. S. Billionaires Want from Government? (WP-14-05)


IPR-WP-14-05

Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright

While there is substantial evidence that the very wealthy in the United States have unusual political power, it is much less clear which issues drive billionaires' political participation or whether they have distinctive policy preferences relative to the general public. This paper describes research in progress, characterizing the public political face of the wealthiest Americans by discovering and coding their policy-relevant statements in the news media. Initial findings suggest that billionaires are especially vocal on issues that distinctively affect them, such as the estate tax. However, the findings also suggest that some engage in "stealth politics" by spending significant money to advance political objectives without ever publicly making a case for those objectives.

Benjamin Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making, Department of Political Science, Faculty Associate, Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University

Jason Seawright, Associate Professor of Political Science, Northwestern University

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