Tahlequah Daily Press

Get the scoop!

December 18, 2013

Poll: Majority of Americans back minimum wage hike

WASHINGTON — A large majority of Americans want Congress to substantially increase the minimum wage as part of an effort to reduce the nation's expanding economic inequality, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

As a growing share of the country's income flows to the very wealthiest, the poll found that 57 percent of Americans say lawmakers should pursue policies aimed at balancing an economic system they think is out of whack. Nearly two in three say federal policy is tilted toward helping the rich over Americans who are less well-off, according to the survey.

The findings come as President Barack Obama has moved to refocus national attention on the problems of inequality and decreasing social mobility. Earlier this month, he called confronting the twin issues "the defining challenge of our time." He added that "making sure our economy works for every working American" will be a central task of his remaining time in office.

Obama recently came out in favor of rasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour — a much larger increase than he had proposed in his State of the Union address in February, when he advocated raising it to $9 an hour.

Increasing the minimum wage, which has stood at $7.25 an hour since 2009, is one of the chief policy tools economists recommend to address inequality. It is also popular among everyday Americans: About two in three say the wage floor should be lifted, and the average wage suggested is $9.41 an hour.

The idea of using public policy to combat inequality is much more popular among Democrats and independents than it is among Republicans. Three in four Democrats and 58 percent of independents say Washington should pursue policies to address inequality, a sentiment that was shared by just two in five Republicans.

A similar divide is evident when it comes to the minimum wage. Eighty-five percent of Democrats support raising the wage, while Republicans are split 50-45 on the issue, the poll found.

Republicans support a lower wage floor than Democrats, when asked separately about their preferred dollar amount. On average, Democrats favor a minimum wage of just over $10, while Republicans want it to be about $8.60 an hour. Independents fall in between, supporting an average minimum wage of about $9.40 an hour. All three groups set their preferred minimum wage higher than the current $7.25, but far below a $15 wage sought by some worker advocates.

Although partisans disagree about what should be done about inequality, economists say the issue has reached dimensions not seen since the years preceding the Great Depression.

Whether calculated by comparing the growth in wages of the highest-income Americans with the lowest, or the proportion of wealth controlled by the richest Americans, or the ratio of wages for production workers to those of chief executives, inequality has grown. Americans have consistently called for government to aim policies at shrinking the gap.

Two years ago, when the Occupy Wall Street movement helped move the issue into the mainstream of political debate, a Post-ABC poll found that more than six in 10 perceived a widening wealth gap and 60 percent wanted Washington to pursue policy to address it, similar to today's 57 percent mark. In the fall of 2012, 52 percent of registered voters shared that sentiment.

Although some policymakers point to minimum-wage increases, more widespread unionization, better education opportunities and bolstering income-support programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit as possible remedies, enacting those policies has always proved difficult.

"A majority of the public might favor some policies that the minority that has the most influence is less enthusiastic about," said Martin Gilens, a politics professor at Princeton University. "On some policies, there is ambivalence among the public. While there is strong support for opportunity-enhancing policies to reduce inequality, there is less support for directly redistributive policies."

Obama has periodically invoked inequality as a problem and promised to address it. Yet economic inequality has only widened on his watch.

Between 2009 and 2012, the incomes of the top 1 percent of earners grew by more than 31 percent, according to Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, while the incomes of the bottom 99 percent expanded by just 0.4 percent.

"He's got a Republican House and even members of the Democratic Party who are strongly aligned with business interest, who are at best ambivalent about some of these policies that certainly are not popular among business interests that have to foot the bill," Gilens said. "When you have divided government and multiple veto points, policies that even a majority of people support can be difficult to adopt."

The new Post-ABC poll was conducted Dec. 12-15 among a random national sample of 1,005 adults, including interviews on land lines and with cellphone-only respondents. The overall margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

1
Text Only
Get the scoop!
  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • Allergies are the real midlife crisis

    One of the biggest mysteries is why the disease comes and goes, and then comes and goes again. People tend to experience intense allergies between the ages of 5 and 16, then get a couple of decades off before the symptoms return in the 30s, only to diminish around retirement age.

    April 15, 2014

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 14, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 14, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • Cherokee Nation launches online art database

    Cherokee Nation officials have launched a new website providing the public access to information regarding art owned by the tribe and its businesses.
    “We have hundreds of traditional and modern works of art in our collection across the Cherokee Nation’s governmental and businesses facilities,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker. “This expanded database is a significant accomplishment and now makes our art collection more accessible for various audiences, including artists, enthusiasts and tribal citizens.”

    April 14, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Stepping forward: The real Colbert

    Letterman changed the late-night TV game between his run on NBC's "Late Night" and starting the "Late Show" franchise in 1993. And while it's tough to replace a pop-culture icon, Colbert, in terms of pedigree and sense of humor, makes the most sense.

    April 11, 2014

  • Millions of Android phones, tablets vulnerable to Heartbleed bug

    Millions of smartphones and tablets running Google's Android operating system have the Heartbleed software bug, in a sign of how broadly the flaw extends beyond the Web and into consumer devices.

    April 11, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Obama's equal pay exaggeration leads us all into danger

    The president's claims of national shame over gender-based pay inequity spring from distorted calculations, as well as some convenient political math.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • mfp file Hoffner Big win for college coach wrongly accused of child porn

    The ex-coach of Minnesota State University-Mankato - cleared on child porn charges - gets his old job back or could take the difference in pay should he decide to stay in a new position in North Dakota, an arbitrator has ruled. Todd Hoffner was accused when a technician found videos of his young children on his school-issued cellphone. Officials in Mankato fired him even though a judge had thrown out the charges.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 10, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Too much of a good thing at UConn?

    The Connecticut Huskies dominate women's college basketball - which makes for a boring game.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Teens trading naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 10, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Stocks