Most Republicans believe that if you are poor, it’s your own fault. Your poverty is the result of your own “lack of effort.” At the same time, most Republicans think that rich people got that way because they “worked harder than others.” Those results come from a new survey about income inequality conducted by the Pew Research Center.
Pew pollsters surveyed 1,504 American adults from January 15 to January 19.
While the researchers found that overall, Americans favor stronger government action to help the poor as well as raising taxes on wealthy Americans and corporations and using the revenue to aid poor people, the Pew survey also revealed that people who identify themselves as Republicans are out of step with the rest of America on issues of wealth and poverty, Talking Points Memo noted.
Asked the question, “Which is more to blame if a person is poor?” 63 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of independents chose the answer, “circumstances beyond his or her control.” But 51 percent of Republicans answered, “lack of effort on his or her part.”
Only 35 percent of Americans overall said that “lack of effort” was why people are poor, and a mere 29 percent of Democrats chose that answer.
The current reality is that nearly one of every three families who work are simply paid wages so low by their employers that they can’t afford basic necessities. According to a 2013 report, more than 70 percent of low-income families worked in 2011, as did 50 percent of all families qualifying as poor.
As The Washington Post pointed out in 2013, most job growth in the economic recovery since 2008 has come in occupations that pay very little. At the same time, growth in jobs that do not require advanced education but still pay well, trade jobs such as carpentry and painting for example, have seen only sluggish growth, if any.
The Pew Survey also found that a majority of Republicans — 57 percent — believe that if a person is rich it is because, “he or she worked harder than others.” But 63 percent of Democrats and 51 percent of Americans overall believe the reason a person is rich is that, “he or she had more advantages.”
A 2012 report by the group United For A Fair Economy looked at the Forbes Magazine list of the 400 wealthiest Americans and found that 40 percent of them got that way not through hard work, but by inheriting “a sizeable asset from a spouse or family member.”
When it comes to current issues such as a one-year extension of unemployment benefits for those out of work “for a long time,” 63 percent of Americans and 83 percent of Democrats favor extending the benefits. But 54 percent of Republicans say no to an extension.
The survey found that Americans overwhelmingly believe that government should somehow step in to reduce the growing gap between rich and poor in America. Almost seven out of 10, 69 percent say that he government should do “a lot” or at least “some” to combat income inequality.
But nearly half of Republicans, 48 percent, say the government should do “not much” or “nothing” to help close the gap between the country’s richest and poorest citizens.
Raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to raise revenue to help the poor is favored by 54 percent of Americans and 75 percent of Dems. But 59 percent of Republicans think that lowering taxes on the wealthy and corporations is the way to go.