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Voters: Tax the Rich, But Fix the Rest First

Monday, 30 Jul 2012 | 3:53 PM ET
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Inequality and “fair share” get a lot of media attention. But in the grand scheme of American problems, taxing the wealthy is low on the list of voter priorities.

A new Gallup poll shows that “increasing taxes on wealth Americans” is “extremely important” for only 21 percent of Americans. It’s “very important” for 49 percent.

That may sound like meaningful support. But taxing the wealthy actually ranked last among 12 issues Americans believe are important for the next President. Jobs took first place. Second was reducing corruption in the federal government, and third was reducing the deficit.

Even the environment and raising moral standards ranked higher than taxing the rich. Among among Obama supporters, healthcare, creating jobs and social security were the top issues. Taxing the rich didn’t rank in the top five.

This doesn’t mean that Americans are opposed to higher taxes on the wealthy. In fact, many polls show strong support among Americans to tax people wealthier than they are. They also think the rich generally don’t pay enough.

But that’s very different from saying that taxing the rich is the top priority in 2012.

-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter:
@robtfrank

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  • A reporter and editor, Robert Frank is a leading authority on the American wealthy for CNBC.