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In all, 54% of Republican voters told Gallup that they were either very or somewhat dissatisfied with "the way income and wealth is distributed in the US." While this is way lower than the 67% of all Americans who answered likewise, there's still a majority of Republican voters echoing these Occupy movement sentiments. And if you remove Republicans from the equation to keep them from dragging down the curve, roughly three-quarters of respondents would agree that income inequality is not good for America.
Gallup analysis shows an opportunity for leadership by the president:
Obama will almost certainly touch on inequality in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28. This will certainly resonate in a general sense with the majority of Americans who are dissatisfied with income and wealth distribution in the U.S. today. Members of the president's party agree most strongly with the president that this is an issue, but majorities of Republicans and independents are at least somewhat dissatisfied as well.
Although Americans are more likely to be satisfied with the opportunity for people to get ahead through hard work, their satisfaction is well below where it was before the economic downturn. Accordingly, improvement in the U.S. economy could bring Americans' views back to pre-recession levels.Everyone knows that Democrats plan to make income inequality an election-year issue and this has already put Republicans on the defensive. Paul Ryan, for his part, is hoping people forget the "takers v. makers" messaging of the Romney-Ryan campaign, which basically argued that poverty in America is way too sweet a deal, and see him instead as completely and miraculously transformed into St. Paul Ryan, Blessed Defender of the Downtrodden and Acolyte to Pope Francis.
The problem of course is that Ryan's merely repackaging the old "trickle-down" BS that Republicans can't seem to pull themselves away from, despite the fact that it's failed over and over again. The past three GOP presidents have tried it and it didn't work for any of them -- including the guy who introduced it to voters. So Ryan's problem -- and the Republican Party's -- is that all this new "friends of the poor" messaging sounds great, until you get into the mechanics. Then it sounds stupid.
So the only real effort to address poverty, income inequality, and unfair distribution of wealth is the old, tried-and-true, tested and proven progressive approach. Raise minimum wage, increase protections for workers, get the very wealthy to finally pay their fair share. Republicans will hate it, but they have nothing else to offer.
And that's why income inequality will be a big issue for Democrats in the 2014 midterms -- because Republicans' only defense is BS that's so worn out that only that gullible 45% of Republican voters will fall for it. You know, the same ones who think every word from Rush Limbaugh is Gospel; the dopes, the eternal chumps, the reliable pigeons always begging to be plucked. The ones who, for whatever reason, want to be fooled.
Whether the issue can turn an election remains to be seen. But if it isn't a winner, it'll be because Republicans successfully changed the subject. Which is why Democrats need to stick to their guns and stay on message.
This is a debate Republicans cannot win. So they'll most likely try to avoid having it at all.
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