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Two-Thirds Of Americans Say Wealth Should Be Distributed More Evenly: Poll

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WEALTH DISTRIBUTION
Demonstrators supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement protest in Albany, N.Y., on Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. (AP) | AP

The economic grievances articulated by the Occupy Wall Street movement may represent the views of not just the fringe, but a large majority of Americans, a new poll suggests.

Two-thirds of Americans said they oppose tax cuts for corporations, support increasing income taxes for millionaires, and believe that wealth should be distributed more evenly across the country, according to New York Times/CBS poll results released on Tuesday. And 43 percent of Americans say that Occupy Wall Street represents the sentiment of most Americans.

Income inequality has been growing in the United States over the past three decades. The top one-percent's share of the national income more than doubled between 1979 and 2007, and their real after-tax income burgeoned 275 percent, according to a recent Congressional Budget Office report. Although the top 0.01 percent of earners in the United States controlled five percent of the nation's wealth in 2008, the median income dropped in 2010 to just $26,364.

As economists debate whether the United States is in danger of slipping into a recession, Americans have already decided that they're living in tough economic times. A September poll found only 9 percent of Americans expressing confidence the economy would not slide back into recession.

The unemployment rate has stayed stagnant at 9.1 percent, consumer confidence is at an all-time low, according to The Financial Times, housing prices fell 3.5 percent this year, according to Bloomberg News, and millions of Americans are overburdened with debt that they accumulated during the boom years. Americans' access to basic needs fell to a new low in September, and nearly 20 percent of Americans say they've had trouble putting food on the table in the past 12 months, according to Gallup.

A large majority of Americans also support more government spending in order to lift the economy out of the economic crisis, Tuesday's poll finds. Eighty percent of Americans said they think it is a good idea for the government to spend more on infrastructure to create jobs. Sixty-five percent support spending more on jobs for teachers, policemen, and firemen, and more than half of Americans favor hiring public employees to create jobs.

Nonetheless, Obama's jobs plan, which would include infrastructure spending, was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster. Senate Democrats now will try to pass a piece of the jobs plan that would give $35 billion to state and local governments to rehire teachers, policemen, and firefighters who were laid off during state budget cuts.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), proposed a tax hike on millionaires in order to cover the cost of the Obama jobs plan or parts of it, but the proposal will likely face an uphill battle against Republican opposition. Schumer signaled on Tuesday that he is willing to entertain Republican ideas for paying to rehire teachers, policemen, and firefighters, according to Politico.

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