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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — Americans overwhelmingly agree that the income gap between the rich and everyone else has grown in recent years, but they are divided sharply by party when asked what, if anything, the government should do about it.

Roughly two-thirds of Americans, regardless of party, agree that the income gap has increased in the last 10 years, compared with about 1 in 4 who believe the gap has stayed the same, according to a new Pew Research Center survey done with USA Today.

In this case, public opinion accurately reflects reality: Almost one-quarter of the nation’s income in 2012 went to the richest 1 percent of families, those with incomes of about $400,000 a year or more — the largest share since the 1920s, according to researchers at University of California, Berkeley.

On a related question, 60 percent of those surveyed said the “economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy” while 36 percent said the system is “generally fair to most Americans.”

An overwhelming majority of Democrats and a large majority of independents said government should do something about inequality. Two-thirds of Democrats said the government should do “a lot” to reduce the income gap. By contrast, among Republicans, 48 percent say government should do “nothing” (33 percent) or “not much” (15 percent) about the issue, while 45 percent said the government should act at least somewhat.

That partisan gap appears to reflect differing beliefs about what government is capable of and what causes some people to remain poor while others prosper, the survey indicated.

Large majorities of Democrats and independents see the country’s economic system as being fundamentally tilted toward the wealthy. They believe that circumstances, not who works hard, determine who becomes rich, and they support government action against both inequality and poverty.

Republicans are more likely to see the economic system as generally fair — although they are divided on that question — and only 45 percent support any government action to reduce the income gap between the rich and the rest of the population. Though skeptical about government action that appears aimed at the rich, Republicans are more likely to support government action against poverty, although many of them doubt it does much good.

Almost half of Republicans (49 percent) said the government can do little or nothing about the divide between the rich and everyone else. Democrats and independents are considerably less likely to hold that view.

Asked whether government help to the poor does more good or harm, about half of those surveyed (49 percent) said the aid does good “because people can’t get out of poverty until basic needs are met.” Roughly two-thirds of Democrats took that view.

A slightly smaller share of the public, 44 percent, said that aid to the poor “does more harm than good by making people too dependent on government.” Roughly two-thirds of Republicans took that view.

  • JSquercia

    Yes the Walton Kids created that wealth by ‘Working HARDER”.

  • Faraday_Cat

    Yeah, never understood the mentality that someone “earned” $300,000 dollars last year, because they won $10 million the year before and parked it all in a 3% APR CD. I’m not sure if that would be taxed as capital gains, but the fact is that person did absolutely NOTHING in terms of work to “earn” that income. So anyone who starts with pretty much anything more than a million, and makes smart decisions, can “earn” money by doing NO WORK.

  • charleo1

    One reason there is not more widespread concern on the Conservative
    Right. Is what they are told about such issues as wealth inequality, a shrinking Middle Class, increases in the number of people working full time, yet not able to pay for their basic needs. Or just the fact, that the
    Country itself is much poorer than it was, even 10 years ago. On the Right, they are consistently told, that for one, it’s not that big of a problem, like the Left makes it out to be. Just cut the spending, and regulation, and lower taxes, and prosperity is ours! Plus, they’ll say, it’s how the market is supposed to work. And in the end, the government is not able to do anything about it, and shouldn’t try. Because, government doesn’t solve problems, Government, is the problem. And they say this on the Right, to their supporters many times in a single day, every day, in many different ways. As it is the issue of our times. It is also an argument the Conservatives feel strongly they must win. After all, every plank of their Party’s economic platform is designed in one way, or another to continue this trend of growing inequality indefinitely into the future.
    The second reason, the Republican Party isn’t thrown out on it’s collective ear, is overall, things are not yet bad enough for most. While some, are going through some of the toughest economic times in their lives. Most of us are employed. Our jobs seem as secure as ever. 85% have kept their employer based healthcare. Even the market value of our homes is slowly making back those scary losses we suffered back in ’08. Republicans stake their case, on appealing to the basest of people’s emotions. The pie is too small. There’s not enough to go around. And when others gain, because of the Government, whether it’s healthcare, a better wage, housing, whatever. That comes off your families table. You’re working twice as hard, because someone else refuses to work. It’s wrong, but it sells. Mainly because, things are just not bad enough yet. Reading the writing on the wall, or if one sees any writing on the wall. At this point, depends on which side of the gaping political divide, one sits.

  • Jon McCasper

    Marxism is for losers.