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Majority of Americans think rich should pay more taxes

Published time: August 28, 2012 21:24
Edited time: August 29, 2012 01:24
AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm

AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm

A new poll shows that the 58 percent of Americans believe the rich are intelligent and hardworking, but also greedy and dishonest, and should pay more taxes.

The poll, released by the Pew Research Center on Monday, also found that 52 percent of Americans – including the upper class – want upper middle class Americans to pay more in taxes, while only 10 percent said they pay too much.

As America’s middle class is shrinking and poverty is reaching a record high since the 1960’s, the wealth is increasingly distributed among the upper percentile of Americans, the Associated Press reports.

As a result, tensions between the rich and poor are increasing. In January, the Pew Research Center found that 66 percent of Americans believe there are “very strong” or “strong” tensions between those with wealth and those without it, which is a 19 percent increase since the previous year.

More Americans also believe the gap between the rich and poor has gotten wider in the past ten years, which 57 percent say negatively affects society. And they are right.

“Income inequality in this country is just getting worse and worse and worse,” James Chanos of the Kynikos Associates Ltd. told Bloomberg Radio last year. “And that is not a recipe for stable economic growth when the rich are getting richer and everybody else is getting left behind.”

Since 1980, 5 percent of US income has shifted from the middle class to the upper class, thereby widening the gap.

On average, Pew survey responders considered “wealthy” to mean any family making more than $150,000 and middle class making more than $70,000.

At the height of the tensions, Mitt Romney supports an extension of Bush-era tax cuts for everyone except the wealthiest 2 percent, while Obama hopes to appeal to financially struggling middle class voters.

But Pew also found that 63 percent of Americans think the GOP favors the rich and 71 percent say Romney’s election would benefit the wealthy, while only 20 percent say the same about Obama. Americans largely consider Obama’s administration as favoring the poor and middle class.

The research comes from telephone interviews conducted with 2,508 adults over the course of 10 days in July.