The Public Supports a Major Effort to Fight Poverty

One might assume that taking action to help the poorest among us wouldn’t draw much support these days with so many Americans worried about their own economic situation. But that’s not the case. A Gerstein/Agne poll conducted right after the election showed overwhelming support for setting a national goal to cut poverty in half within 10 years—a goal laid out by the Center for American Progress’ Poverty Task Force in its report, “From Poverty to Prosperity: A National Strategy to Cut Poverty in Half,” and now supported by the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Half in Ten campaign. Over three-quarters—76 percent—of respondents in the poll supported such a goal, while just 13 percent opposed it.

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Even when the poll specified that meeting that goal would require higher taxes for the wealthy and new government spending, the proposal still received strong 58-28 support.

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And when respondents were reminded about all the money we are spending to fix the financial crisis, they still felt, by 72-21, that poor families’ economic needs require attention and rejected the idea that there should be no new spending to help the poor.

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In fact, the public seems to believe that we’re all in this together; Seventy-seven percent said that, “the negative consequences of poverty affect all of us.” Just 19 percent endorsed the idea that “the negative consequences of poverty mostly affect those in poor neighborhoods.”

No wonder the public is ready for action on this vital issue—they believe they have a stake in solving the problem even if they themselves are not poor.

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