The three richest people in the US - Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet - own more than the bottom half of the country combined
The wealth of nations
The combined wealth of America's top 400 billionaires came to $2.7tr in 2017, which is more than the entire GDP of Italy ($1.8tr) or France ($2.5tr).
And they wield political power
The super-rich have supersized political influence. The Koch brothers have said they invested about $250m in the 2016 election and have promised $400m for the 2018 midterms. Michael Bloomberg spent about $23m on Democrats in 2016, and is planning to spend $80m in 2018.
More than one-quarter of all disclosed political contributions in 2012 came from just 30,000 people - and the percentage may be higher because many donations are unreported. Some researchers have concluded that wealthy people and business interests have 15 times the political efficacy of the rest of the population.
Most Americans have had enough
The political clout of billionaires has soared since the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, which determined that election-spending regulations restrict the right of corporations to free speech.
Yet 77% of the country believes there should be limits on how much individuals and organizations can spend on political campaigns. Most people are unhappy with the status quo, and do not think it’s fair that wealthier people have disproportionate political influence.
Who are they?
Of the richest 100 billionaires,
98 percent are white
86 percent are men
the average age is 70
Top political donors include such household names as hedge-fund managers George Soros ($11m to Democratic causes and candidates in the 2018 election so far) and Tom Steyer (about $30m in 2018). Among conservatives, key figures are casino magnate Sheldon Adelson ($55m to Republicans in 2018).