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America’s Silent-but-Deadly Billionaires

Sean McElwee

eddy Roosevelt famously argued that, when it comes to foreign policy, one should “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Similarly, an apt summation of the political inclinations of billionaires might be, “Speak softly, and carry a big check.”

While some billionaires, like Warren Buffett, are outspoken on political issues, most tend to say very little, or speak in vague generalities. But a new working paper by political scientists Benjamin Page, Jason Seawright and Matthew Lacombe finds that what billionaires say and what they do are dramatically different. While billionaires rarely go on the record discussing Social Security and taxes, they work behind the scenes to oppose policies favored by average Americans. Often, there are deep disconnects between what billionaires say regarding policies and which organizations they fund.