Public Calls for Fair Economy

Perhaps the Occupy Wall Street movement’s central claim is that the distribution of income and wealth in this country is massively unfair and above all benefits the top 1 percent. This claim about the unfairness of economic distribution is finding a ready audience among the American public.

In the latest CBS/New York Times poll, by an overwhelming 40-point margin, the public endorses the idea that money and wealth in the country should be more fairly distributed (66 percent) over the idea that the current distribution is fair (26 percent).

the public endorses the idea that money and wealth should be more fairly distributed

Conservatives are adamant, of course, in their opposition to Occupy Wall Street, dismissing the charge of massive economic disparity. Progressives take the charge much more seriously and argue we should try to do something about this problem.

These different priorities are not likely to escape public notice. In the same poll, just 28 percent said the Obama adminstration favored the rich, while 23 percent said it favored the middle class, 17 percent thought it favored the poor, and 21 percent thought all classes were treated equally.

That starkly contrasts with public assessments of conservatives in Congress. Almost 7 in 10 (69 percent) thought congressional Republicans favored the rich, compared to just 9 percent who thought they favored the middle class, 2 percent who thought they favored the poor, and a mere 15 percent who thought they treated all classes equally.

the public thinks the administration supports the middle class and poor

It seems conservatives are getting quite a reputation. That’s the real reason they don’t like Occupy Wall Street. The movement reminds the public of some very real things they don’t like about our economy—and the role of conservatives in stopping any real change.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.