Dec 16, 2011 9:14 PM GMT
Classwarfare other than being bad economics is bad politics.
PRINCETON, NJ -- More Americans say it is important that the federal government enact policies that grow the economy and increase equality of opportunity than say the same about reducing the income and wealth gap between the rich and the poor.
These data, from a Nov. 28-Dec.1 Gallup survey, show that while 46% of Americans believe it is extremely or very important that the federal government in Washington reduce the income and wealth gap between the rich and poor, 70% say it is important for the government to increase equality of opportunity, and 82% say it is important for the government to grow and expand the economy.
The issue of reducing the income and wealth gap has become politically salient in recent months. The Occupy Wall Street protests in a number of cities around the country have drawn attention to allegations of special privileges and power among the wealthiest Americans.
President Barack Obama has also adopted a more populist emphasis in recent months, decrying the deteriorating position of the middle class, noting that in recent years, "Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments -- wealthier than ever before. But everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren't -- and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up." Obama and other Democrats have pushed for increased taxes on those in higher income brackets as one way to address their concerns.
There are, not surprisingly, substantial differences in the ways in which Democrats, independents, and Republicans look at these issues.
Americans of all political persuasions believe that it is important to grow and expand the economy, with Republicans placing slightly less emphasis on it than independents and Democrats do.
Republicans are, however, much less likely than independents and Democrats to say it is important for the government to be involved in increasing equality of opportunity or reducing the income/wealth gap.
While 72% of Democrats say it is extremely or very important to reduce the income and wealth gap between rich and poor, 43% of independents and 21% of Republicans agree.
A majority of all three partisan groups say that increasing equality of opportunity is important, but Democrats (87%) are again much more likely to say it's important than independents (69%) or Republicans (53%).