Voters generally, and prosperous voters in particular, suffer from what I call the mother of all cognitive illusions: they believe that having to pay higher taxes would make it more difficult to buy what they want. Like many illusory beliefs, this one may seem self-evident. And yet, as I will explain, it is completely baseless.
Many prosperous voters are of course willing to be taxed more heavily to support the common good. But that doesn’t mean they regard taxes as painless. For most of these voters, the perceived value of additional public investment trumps their reluctance to endure what they imagine will be unpleasant reductions in disposable income.
Far more numerous, however, are prosperous voters who hold the opposite view: their perceived benefits from additional public investment are insufficient to compensate for the personal sacrifices they believe higher taxes would entail. And so they resist tax increases with all the formidable levers at their disposal.
Regardless of where they stand on tax policy, then, most prosperous voters believe that higher taxes would necessitate unpleasant reductions in personal consumption spending.
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