Poll: Majority of Americans want government to reduce income gap
February 5th, 2014
06:00 AM ET
8 months ago

Poll: Majority of Americans want government to reduce income gap

(CNN) – A majority of Americans surveyed believe the government should work to reduce the income gap between rich and the poor, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday indicates more than six in 10 Americans strongly or somewhat agree that the government should work to narrow that gap, compared to 30% who believe it should not.

"That sentiment may put Republicans in a difficult position, because nearly seven in 10 of those surveyed believe GOP policies favor the rich compared to the 30% of respondents who said Democratic policies benefit the wealthy," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

The results come after President Barack Obama made a major push in his State of the Union address last week for policies curbing income inequality.

The White House has billed 2014 as a 'Year of Action' and efforts to stem the widening gap between the rich and poor has become a cornerstone of the administration's agenda.

Opinion on the income gap appears to have changed little since the Reagan era. In 1983, 68% of Americans favored government action to narrow the divide. Today, that number stands at 66%.

Most Republicans oppose such measures, and nine in 10 Democrats favor them. Among independents, two-thirds believe the government should work to reduce the income gap.

Higher income earners agree. Fifty-seven percent of Americans who earn more than $100,000 a year said the government should help decrease the income inequality.

There is a gender gap on this issue as well, with women, at 70%, slightly more likely to favor measures to reduce the gap than men, at 62%.

The CNN survey was conducted by ORC International from January 31 to February 2, with 1,010 adults nationwide questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


Filed under: CNN/ORC International poll • Economy
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Name Manuel J. Placencia

    Raise minimum wage to $20 per hour

    February 5, 2014 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  2. Name jk. Sfl. GOP CRUZ lee&rubio 24billion dallar LOSS of your tax money conservatives,the garbage of America.

    The solution??? Get rid of the GOP in congress in November !!!!!!!!

    February 5, 2014 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  3. Mike Jones

    You know if the Fed. was not dumping 5 Trillion dollars of newly created money into the stock market, the rich would not be getting richer and the poorer would not be paying $3.50 for gas, and becoming poorer. Most poor people make over $10 an hour, and I remember a day when that was enough money to live on and live comfortable. Not anymore.

    February 5, 2014 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  4. rs

    The single greatest one thing the GOP could do to help average Americans is to fix wage disparity: increase the minimum wage (as there is zero evidence that doing so affects jobs), and support equal pay laws for women.

    Note they support neither.

    February 5, 2014 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  5. jinx9to88

    Here we go. The majority of Americans want something done and Congress won't act, but Congress sure love to throw around "the majority of the American people" in everything they say. What a bunch of hypocrites!

    February 5, 2014 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  6. Phyllis Gwendoline Williams

    INCOME GAP – "Thou shalt Love Thy neighbour as Thyself" (Mark 12: 31) "Done it unto the least..Done it unto Me"
    (Matthew 25: 40 ; 6: 19-20)

    February 5, 2014 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  7. Dean

    Majority of Americans are lazy.

    February 5, 2014 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  8. Don

    But yet Obamacare encourages people to work less so the qualify for subsidies.

    February 5, 2014 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  9. Truth

    And.........this is one of Obama's policy proposals.... So why again are people saying his policies might fail...? Oh that's right! Because in order for them to work they have to get the through the house first. And the house is full of cowards. House of C(ow)ards.

    February 5, 2014 08:52 am at 8:52 am |
  10. mickinmd

    As Conservatives Henry Ford and 20-bank owner Marriner Eccles said: the economy can't thrive if the workers can't afford to purchase the goods and services they produce. Companies are worried because they're shifting their products to cater to the very rich or very poor. The Middle Class is eroding. The top 5% earn nearly 40% of all income yet contribute only 14% to consumer spending – a significant part of the difference being skimmed out of the economy and into offshore bank accounts.
    It's for the good of all to have a strong middle class the very wealthy need to stop their war against the middle class or it will hurt them as well when the middle class disappears. Don't think there's a war? Then why are Wall St's billiionaires, despite profiting nicely from Costco, trying to force it to lower wages from $12/hr to $8.79 like Walmart? Why are Wall St's billionaires trying to sell a flat tax that will shift more taxes on the middle and lower classes, despite the fact the top 1% made 9% of all income in the 1970's and make 24% now – shouldn't they pay taxes to the government for allowing them to fleece $1 out of every $6 of income from the middle and lower classes?

    February 5, 2014 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  11. Ddtgwt

    The reason people believe this crap is because we have the nations most racist divisive president in our history and the media that instead of doing their job put their ideology before their professional ethics.

    February 5, 2014 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  12. Tampa Tim

    One does get tired of cry baby wingnuts who think that there should be no opportunity in the Land of Opportunity.

    February 5, 2014 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  13. Tampa Tim

    We pay a Navy Seal $50,000 a year, and a person like Limbaugh, who gives nothing to the country, makes over a million dollars.

    February 5, 2014 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  14. Tampa Tim

    Don – The CBO report went right over your head, didn't it. Maybe you should read the second sentence. All is well.

    February 5, 2014 09:14 am at 9:14 am |
  15. xray vision

    Minnie, 100% agree, those looking for a handout, or make a career out of assistance should be banned from more " help". Hand up, not hand out.

    February 5, 2014 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  16. xray vision

    Don, much could be taken from that report, you have been given the part that results in your post, read the whole article, then comment

    February 5, 2014 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  17. Tampa Tim

    Fair – there was a tremendous wage disparity in the 1890's, and it was addressed because a republican went against his party. Bully for Teddy.

    February 5, 2014 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  18. Tampa Tim

    That should have read, Limbaugh makes over a hundred million dollars. Sorry.

    February 5, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    Ah yes, we will soon see more examples of the "virtuous rich and parasitic poor" comments from those that imbibe the heady drug called Objectivism, more commonly called Libertarianism. No society has ever prospered without social mobility, yet conservatives seem hell-bent on preventing that from happening to our children. I guess those that have made it onto the top of the heap expect us to keep them there, even at the expense of the very thing that enabled them to suceed in the first place. I guess its for our own good, since a rich person is clearly a better person: never mind how they got their money, since morality is for those fools in the middle class who have to fly coach throughout much of their lives.

    February 5, 2014 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  20. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    The statistics mentioned will have differing meanings for differing parties. The democrats, will look upon this as a call to raise the standard for the middle and lower middle class workers, while the republicans, will look upon this as a call to knock everyone down a notch. This would allow more monies to go to the pockets of the top tier incomes again. This would help fulfill the republican promise of (No Millionaire Left Behind).

    February 5, 2014 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  21. Fair is Fair

    Tampa Tim

    Fair – there was a tremendous wage disparity in the 1890's, and it was addressed because a republican went against his party. Bully for Teddy.
    ------
    Well, TT, I do believe you might be comparing the economy of the 1890's, which was agriculture and manufacturing based, with the economy of the 21st century, which is high-tech and service-industry based. There is no valid comparison, so you really shouldn't try to imply one. Apples to camels.

    February 5, 2014 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  22. Ryan

    "A CNN/ORC International survey released Wednesday indicates more than six in 10 Americans strongly or somewhat agree that the government should work to narrow that gap, compared to 30% who believe it should not."

    The gap is not, in and of itself a problem, there will always be a significant separation between the ultra wealthy and a blue or white collar income family.

    The world is facing a combination of problems that we have not yet come to grips with, to name a few.
    1. People are now working until they are older, meaning that there is more competition for available jobs.
    2. Unemployement, welfare and other "recovery" programs that are supposed to provide a temporary fall back for the unemployed are structured such that it is difficult to gradually return to the workforce without completely loosing the "recovery" program support. Stated simply if a person takes a lower paying position they could actually loose income vs staying on unemployment. This is actually demotivating to the workforce.
    3. Reporting of inflation has become a game. Prices of clothing, gasoline and many other commodities is on the rise, yet inflation is reportedly at an all time low.
    4. The perception that the rich are not carrying their fair share. There seems to be a perception that the ultra wealthy should carry a larger portion of the tax burden. There are approximately 315 million people in the US, based on 2005 figures approximately 100 million have a tax liability. The number of households with a net worth not including their first home greater than $1M is only 3 million, half of which are retired. Consider a $100k tax per year against all working households that have a net work greater than $1M not including their home, this increases the federal revenue a total of $75 Billion dollars which wouldn't even slow down the growth of our national debt which is something about $17 Trillion dollars.

    February 5, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  23. Truth

    Let's raise the Minimum wage to $100/Hr. It's win-win! Obama and the majority want this! We could also print lots of money, and give every American a million dollars!

    Those Teapublicans never have good ideas like this!

    February 5, 2014 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  24. Tampa Tim

    We pay a Navy Seal $50,000 a year, and a person like Limbaugh, who gives nothing to the country, makes over a hundred million dollars a year.

    February 5, 2014 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  25. Lilly

    People have to be wise now. If you voted for someone to represent you, instead of thinking your interests first, he thought about himself, in other words: did nothing while cashing in their checks, come November vote them out. Your vote can stop this inequality gap. No work done, no vote and hence no free income which brings richness to some people.

    February 5, 2014 09:47 am at 9:47 am |
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