A new report from the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday added to the evidence that the income gap between the top American income earners and the middle- and lower-classes continues to grow, as the top one percent saw its average after-tax income grow by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007. During the same time period, it grew just 18 percent for the bottom 20 percent, resulting in a “substantially more unequal” distribution of wealth than there was three decades ago.
That feeds the core message of inequality that has driven the 99 Percent Movement protests, now in their second month in New York City and gaining steam in cities across the country. And while Republicans continue to either dismiss or pay lip service to the protests and the changes they seek, a new poll from the New York Times and CBS has found that Americans not only view the protests positively but also support a more equal distribution of wealth and higher taxes on top earners while opposing corporate tax breaks that have been protected by the GOP:
Almost half of the public thinks the sentiment at the root of the Occupy movement generally reflects the views of most Americans.
With nearly all Americans remaining fearful that the economy is stagnating or deteriorating further, two-thirds of the public said that wealth should be distributed more evenly in the country. Seven in 10 Americans think the policies of Congressional Republicans favor the rich. Two-thirds object to tax cuts for corporations and a similar number prefer increasing income taxes on millionaires.
It’s no wonder 70 percent of Americans think Congressional Republicans favor the rich, as the GOP continues to either ignore the problems of the middle- and lower-classes or directly assault the programs that help them most. Even though the top income earners have seen their tax rates halved over the last decade, Republicans continue to oppose efforts to raise their taxes. Meanwhile, they have taken an axe to the federal budget, proposing to cut programs like Pell Grants, assistance for women and children, and foreclosure prevention, while preserving the very corporate tax breaks the NYT/CBS poll shows two-thirds of Americans oppose.
The same poll found that Congressional approval has slipped to another new all-time low, with just 9 percent of voters approving of the job Congress is doing. That should be a clear message to Republicans who continue to gut vital programs and block proposals that have popular support, but judging by their response to previous polls showing similar results, it won’t be.