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Billionaires and Stealth Politics$
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Benjamin I. Page, Jason Seawright, and Matthew J. Lacombe

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780226586090

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226586267.001.0001

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Stealth Politics on Taxes and Social Security

Stealth Politics on Taxes and Social Security

(p.25) Chapter Two Stealth Politics on Taxes and Social Security
Billionaires and Stealth Politics

Benjamin I. Page

Jason Seawright

Matthew J. Lacombe

University of Chicago Press

Chapter 2 focuses on billionaires’ general political activity, as well as their words and actions related to economic issues. It describes our web-scraping research techniques, which were used to identify all statements made by the wealthiest one hundred billionaires, over a ten year period, about many specific policies related to taxes and Social Security. We also searched for the actions – such as financial contributions to issue-specific organizations – the billionaires have taken on these specific issues. We find substantial evidence of stealth politics. On these issues, many billionaires have engaged in extensive political actions that aim to move public policy in directions that most Americans oppose. But they have rarely made serious political arguments in public or offered reasons for their actions. Most billionaires have said nothing at all about specific policies involving taxes or Social Security, particularly when their preferences are much more conservative than those of the general public. Many act, but very few explain why. They do not try to convince their fellow citizens to agree with them. They avoid accountability.

Keywords:   billionaires, democracy, taxes, social security, stealth politics

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