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59% Say Less Government, Not More, Would Help Close Income Gap

Monday, January 27, 2014

President Obama is expected to map out his agenda for reducing income inequality in his State of the Union speech tomorrow night. Most voters agree that income inequality is a serious problem in America today but don’t think government action is the best solution.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 69% of Likely U.S. Voters consider income inequality at least a somewhat serious problem in the United States today. That includes 45% who consider it a Very Serious problem. Twenty-eight percent (28%) don’t think income inequality is a serious problem, with 10% who say it’s Not At All Serious. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

But when asked which would do more to close the income gap in America, 59% choose less government involvement in the economy over more government action. Thirty-three percent (33%) think increased government involvement in the economy would do more to close the income gap.

A plurality (48%) says society overall would be less fair if the government got more involved in regulating the economy. Twenty-nine percent (29%) think increased government involvement would ensure that society is more fair. Fifteen percent (15%) see no impact from more government involvement in the economy. These findings are little changed from April 2012.

More voters than ever (66%) now think the U.S. economy is unfair to the middle class

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The surveys of 1,000 Likely Voters each were conducted on January 23-24, 2014 and January 11-12, 2014 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Most voters (78%) believe policies that encourage economic fairness are at least somewhat important, but that compares to 91% who view policies that encourage economic growth that way. When asked to choose between the two, 53% of voters consider economic growth to be more important than economic fairness. Thirty-eight percent (38%) rate economic fairness as the more important of the two.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters now rate the president’s handling of issues related to economic fairness as good or excellent. Forty-six percent (46%) say he’s doing a poor job in this area. These ratings have changed little in regular surveys over the past year, but voters are slightly more critical of the president than they have been in several months.

Half (50%) of Republicans consider income inequality a serious problem in America, compared to 87% of Democrats and 67% of voters not affiliated with either party major who feel that way. Just over half (53%) of Democrats think more government involvement in the economy will do more to narrow the income gap in America, but most GOP (87%) and unaffiliated voters (59%) say less government involvement is the better course.

Voters who earn $50,000 or less annually are more likely to see income inequality as a serious problem compared to those who earn more.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of the Political Class think more government involvement will reduce income inequality. Seventy percent (70%) of Mainstream voters see less government involvement as a better way to close the income gap. 

Only 38%of all voters think the U.S. economy now is at least somewhat fair to people who are willing to work hard, a new low.

Most Americans favor raising the minimum wage but are almost evenly divided over whether that will help or hurt the economy. 

Forty-three percent (43%) of Americans expect to earn more money a year from now

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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