MOORHEAD, Minn. — The definition of "rich" is relative, of course. To a billionaire, a millionaire seems poor. But to a family making $50,000 a year, another making $250,000 a year seems beyond wealthy.
Know this, before we get into the meat of this column, which will surely have many who read it blowing steam out their ears: According to a 2016 MinnPost article based on U.S. Census data, 41% of households in Minnesota make less than $50,000 a year while 60% make less than $75,000.
As MinnPost pointed out, a $50,000 yearly salary equates to a $25 hourly wage for full-time work.
And to think there are Republican politicians who are apoplectic over hiking the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
They can afford it, so yes 44% I'm not rich myself, but it's not fair to tax the wealthy more 45% I am wealthy. Try it and I'll move to South Dakota 11%
Should Minnesota raise taxes on the wealthy and profitable corporations to fund needed services?
Thank you for voting!
They can afford it, so yes
I'm not rich myself, but it's not fair to tax the wealthy more
I am wealthy. Try it and I'll move to South Dakota
But I digress.
There are a whole lot of people who view a $100,000 household income as being rich.
So it makes perfect sense that an overwhelming majority of Minnesotans, two of three, supports raising income taxes on households making more than $250,000 a year. The same majority supports increasing taxes on profitable corporations.
These numbers come courtesy of a survey done by Data for Progress, an admittedly liberal pollster commissioned by a progressive think tank called the Minnesota Budget Project. The poll of 2,051 registered voters was conducted in December.
The same poll showed Minnesotans strongly support providing equal opportunity and reducing racial inequities.
So, yes, there is a method to the polling and pushing it to the media.
But while Republicans continue to push the false narrative that higher taxes will kill jobs and drive wealthy people to South Dakota or other low-tax states — historical data shows that simply isn't true — 67% of Minnesotans favor higher taxes for the financially well-off and corporations that are making money.
You can hate the numbers all you want, but you can't deny them. Minnesotans are OK with taxing the rich, however they define that.
And, no, it isn't just the diabolical liberals in Minneapolis who believe that. The pollster broke down some of the numbers into regional detail. In Senate District 4, which includes Moorhead, 66% of voters support raising taxes on the rich. In Senate District 26, which includes Rochester, a whopping 74% are in favor of taxing the rich at a higher rate.
This is not surprising, unless you're a Republican politician. Minnesotans, and Americans in general, have long favored the wealthy paying their fair share to fund investments in infrastructure, schools, public services and taking care of those who have less.
It's not controversial. Never has been.
It's even less so as we crawl out of a pandemic-induced economic dive that crushed the poor. While many are coming out of the pandemic better off than before, hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans are facing troubling hardship. Another poll found 29% of Minnesotans were having trouble affording basic household expenses.
It isn't right. And it isn't fair.
An overwhelming majority of Minnesotans know how to fix the problem. Republicans in St. Paul do, too, even if they keep saying otherwise.
Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist Mike McFeely at (701) 451-5655