(NEW YORK) -- Six in 10 Americans say the federal government should pursue policies to reduce the gap between the wealthy and less-well-off Americans, although fewer express support for the Occupy Wall Street movement that’s been protesting U.S. income inequality.
Sixty-one percent of respondents in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll think the wealth gap is larger than it’s been historically. And despite longstanding public concerns about activist government, six in 10 also say the federal government should seek to reduce that differential.
The public’s concern is buttressed by a recent Congressional Budget Office estimate that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have nearly tripled their incomes since 1979, while the bottom 80 percent of earners have seen their share of the nation’s total income slightly decline.
The poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates, finds that 37 percent perceive the wealth gap as “much larger” than it’s been; just 5 percent think it’s smaller. And 43 percent feel “strongly” that the government should pursue policies to address it, versus 24 percent who are strongly opposed.
Overall support for such policies is linked to perceptions of a widening wealth gap. Among those who think the gap is much larger than it’s been historically, 84 percent say the government should pursue policies to address it. That declines to 54 percent among people who think the gap is just somewhat larger than in the past, and 41 percent of those who think it’s about the same.
But while 60 percent support polices to address wealth distribution, substantially fewer -- 44 percent -- identify themselves as supporters of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and just 18 percent strongly so. About as many, 41 percent, say they oppose the movement.
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