Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What Americans actually believe and care about

Public opinion is generally favorable toward greater government activism to address poverty, inequality, opportunity, and climate change.

Polls show that Americans are upset with widening inequality, the political influence of big business, and declining living standards. Public opinion is generally favorable toward greater government activism to address poverty, inequality, opportunity, and climate change.
Most Americans worry that government has been captured by the powerful and wealthy. They want a government that serves the common good. They also want to reform government to make it more responsive and accountable.
On those matters—both broad principles and specific policy prescriptions—Sanders is in sync with the vast majority of Americans.

Big Business

·        About three-quarters (74 percent) of Americans—including 84 percent of Democrats, 72 percent of independents, and 62 percent of Republicans—believe that corporations have too much influence on American life and politics today, according to a recent New York Times/CBS News poll. In contrast, only 37 percent think that labor unions exercise too much influence.      
·        The Pew Research Center discovered that 60 percent of Americans—including 75 percent of Democrats—believed that "the economic system in this country unfairly favors the wealthy."
·        Fifty-eight percent of Americans said they would support breaking up “big banks like Citigroup,” a key plank of Sanders’ platform and the goal of a bill that Sanders sponsored in the Senate.
·        Seventy-three percent of Americans favor tougher rules for Wall Street financial companies, versus 17 percent who oppose stronger regulation.
·        Sixty-four percent of Americans strongly or somewhat favor regulating greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, factories and cars and requiring utilities to generate more power from “clean” low-carbon sources.

Progressive Taxation

·        More than three-quarters of Americans (79 percent) think that wealthy people don't pay their fair share of taxes, while 82 percent believe that some corporations don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
·        Sixty-eight percent of Americans favor raising taxes on people earning more than $1 million per year, including 87 percent of Democrats, 65 percent of independents, and 53 percent of Republicans.

Inequality and Poverty

·        A strong majority (66 percent) say that wealth should be more evenly divided and that it is a problem that should be addressed urgently.
·        Ninety-two percent of Americans want a society with far less income disparity than currently exists in the United States. Americans prefer some inequality to perfect equality, according to the professors at the Harvard Business School and Duke University who conducted the survey. But when asked to pick an ideal level of income disparity, Americans prefer the more egalitarian level similar to the one in Sweden (although without identifying the country by name) to that in the U.S. What’s more, the rich and the poor, and Democrats and Republicans, are almost equally likely to choose the Swedish model. For example, 93.5 percent of Democrats and 90.2 percent of Republicans preferred the level of income distribution that exists in Sweden.
·        Sixty-nine percent of Americans—including 90 percent of Democrats, 69 percent of independents, and 45 percent of Republicans—believe that the government should help reduce the gap between the rich and everyone else. Eighty-two percent of Americans—including 94 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of independents, and 64 percent of Republicans—think the government should help reduce poverty.      

Money in Politics

·        Eighty-four percent of Americans think that money has too much influence in politics. Slightly more Americans (85 percent) want an overhaul of our campaign finance system
·        Seventy-eight percent of Americans think that campaign spending by outside groups not affiliated with candidates should be limited by law.
 ·       A majority of Americans (54 percent) believe that money given to political candidates is not a form of free speech protected by the First Amendment. In other words, they disagree with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.

Minimum Wage and Workers' Rights

·        A recent poll by Hart Research Associates found that 75 percent of Americans (including 53 percent of Republicans) support an increase in the federal minimum wage to $12.50 by 2020. Sixty-three percent of Americans support an even greater increase in the minimum wage to $15.00 by 2020.
·        Eighty percent of Americans favor requiring employers to offer paid leave to parents of new children and employees caring for sick family members. Even more (85 percent) favor requiring employers to offer paid leave to employees who are ill.
·        A significant majority of Americans support the right of workers to unionize, despite several decades of corporate-sponsored anti-union propaganda. Eighty-two percent believe that factory and manufacturing workers should have the right to unionize. A vast majority support the right to unionize for transportation workers (74 percent), police and firefighters (72 percent), public school teachers (71 percent), workers in supermarkets and retail sales (68 percent), and fast food workers (62 percent).

Health Care and Social Security 

·        Over 50 percent of Americans (including one-quarter of Republicans and nearly 80 percent of Democrats) say they support a single-payer "Medicare for All" approach to health insurance, something Sanders has long advocated. Only 36 percent oppose the idea. 12 percent are neutral.
·        Seventy-one percent Americans support a public option, which would give individuals the choice of buying healthcare through Medicare or private insurers. This was part of Obama’s original health care plan but the insurance industry lobby killed it, thanks to every Senate Republican and a handful of Senate Democrats, led by Senator Max Baucus of Montana.
·        The Gallup poll found that 67 percent of Americans want to lift the income cap on Social Security to require higher-income workers to pay Social Security taxes on all of their wages. Most people still don’t realize that workers who earn more than $118,500 a year don’t contribute on their full income and that simply removing that tax loophole for high earners would close the lion’s share of Social Security’s modest long-term funding gap. Legislation introduced by Senator Sanders and Represenative Peter DeFazio of Oregon would apply the same payroll tax already paid by more than nine out of 10 Americans to those with incomes over $250,000 a year. Census Bureau data shows that only about 5 percent (1 in 18) of workers would pay more if the cap were scrapped, and only the top 1.4 percent (one in 71 workers) would be affected if the tax were applied to earnings over $250,000.

Higher Education

·        More than three-quarters (79 percent) of Americans think that education beyond high school is not affordable for everyone in the U.S. who needs it. Seventy-seven percent believe that higher education institutions should reduce tuition and fees, while 59 percent and 55 percent respectively agree that state governments and the federal government should provide more assistance. The average tuition bill for students at a public four-year college has increased by more than 250 percent over the past three decades. More than one-third (35 percent) of 2000-2014 college graduates report graduating with more than $25,000 in undergraduate student loan debt, in inflation-adjusted dollars. The recently graduated college class of 2015 has an average debt burden of $35,051 per student, the highest ever. Sanders introduced legislation to make four-year public colleges and universities tuition-free, paid for through a tax on Wall Street transactions.

Same-Sex Marriage

·        Today, 60 percent of Americans believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry, according to Gallup, a figure that is likely to increase following the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. But in 1996, only 27 percent felt that way. That year, then-Congressman Sanders was one of only 67 House members to vote against the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred federal recognition of gay marriages. 
America seems to be holding its breath, trying to decide what kind of country it wants to be. We seem to be at one of those crossroads moments when attitudes are rapidly shifting and significant reform is possible.
But public opinion, on its own, doesn’t translate into public policy. It has to be mobilized. That’s what movements do. And that’s what elections are for.


  1. I have a hunch that if the economy was better and more people felt like they actually had some wealth, the answer to these questions might be different. Right now, I don't make a ton of money, but you'd be surprised at how far a mid 50k can take two people with no kids in Vegas. Because my wife hasn't really worked much, we basically don't pay very much in taxes. If I made (and hopefully will in not the distant future) over 100k and paid more in taxes, I would probably start to bitch like a Republican. Those issues up there pretty much show that a large chunk of America supports what Bernie is talking about which makes it kind of interesting that he probably won't get too far in the process.

    1. I dunno Max. My wife and I are well over 100K and I don't bitch about taxes. We are empty nesters so we don't have much to deduct. been that way for the last five years. Guess I understand the need for it all.

    2. Well, it's been going on over ten years now since I made that kind of money, and my life has changed quite a bit as well. It's quite possible I would see things a little differently now, especially when considering there really isn't anything I feel deprived of. Right about when I started making good money was really right after my Ayn Rand phase had peaked and I had a bit of a, "Is this all there is?" phase. My wife has been frugal all of her life and has had an enormous impact on how I view and spend money. I might gripe a little bit paying a higher percent of taxes, but unlike when I was in my late 20s to early 30s, I certainly will not be mindlessly blowing money like I did then. I might be feeling a lot more like you do now. At the least, I'm certainly not going to be hitting a top tax bracket any time soon!

  2. "Although today the Pew Charitable Trusts is officially non-partisan and non-ideological, Joseph Pew and his heirs were politicallyconservative. Conversely, the modern day organization is considered to represent the far left on many issues, specifically those pertaining to the environment and America's oceans."

    "The Pew Charitable Trusts have been known to hire groups of people to attend Congressional hearings under the guise of being supporters of Pew's agenda. The intention is that by paying people to attend the hearings, Pew can make it appear as if there is a large and passionate grassroots network for their issues."

    PEW working for the NY Times/CBS can produce a poll hardly worth the toilet paper it is written on.

    1. "The intention is that by paying people to attend the hearings, Pew can make it appear as if there is a large and passionate grassroots network for their issues."

      yeah, this has never been done before and Republicans have never scrubbed a crowd to make sure there were no opposing views yelled out.

      So let's concede the point William and say this poll means nothing. Do you think the mainstream of American is completely opposite this poll?

    2. I think this is a nice left wing talking points poll. All research companies located inside the DC dark hole are biased in one form or another. They are all good at giving you what you want.

      Tissue paper.

    3. All of them William or the only ones that don't poll your way. I all makes sense to me. It's Bernie's mantra and he is drawing the biggest crowds of them all. Maybe he is on to something.

    4. Max,
      Ask the question to a person that lives in the city and the answers are different that people responding from a 2nd tier, 3 tier city. Ask the questions of a person in a rural area and the response is different from the city.

      A perfect example ask the questions in the city of Denver or Boulder and compare the answers you get from Colorado Springs which are diametrically opposed to the city.

      Having said that, the poll is good for that moment in time and for the people responding to the questions and the results are predictable.

    5. I think that's why you have to know how to really read a poll or know how to compare polls. It's not always what's asked, it's what isn't asked. Actually, I think the focus group is more important these days than the polls, which are becoming almost notorious for a leading stance, kind like asking, "Should we feed misbehaving children to alligators" and then saying that liberals are soft because they won't provide a real threat to misbehaving children.

      Satan is on earth, and his human name is Frank Luntz. People like him sort of make polling irrelevant.

    6. Want a positive or negative response to an issue?
      The question matters as well as who you are asking.
      Polls are relevant only to people who want to validate their beliefs.

      People think college should be free.
      If you have a child and your faced with the reality of cost, yep your for free college.
      If you live in rural America and are 55 years old and no kids at home and paid for it yourself, No way.

      Free preschool:
      If you have a child 0-3 years, yep.
      If your 65 years old, no way.

    7. The socialists in both parties have already gotten us 18-20 Trillion dollars in the hole.

      Shit,,,let's just hire uncle Bernie to make Khrushchev's prediction happen even sooner. "We will bury you."

    8. If you are 55 YO and live in rural America, you might value book lernin all that much period ;> To me, the danger of no free education is the kind of thing that Radicals, be they Muslim or otherwise, thrive on. Ignorant people who don't know any better can easily be inflamed to be a pawn in some bigger agenda. I've met some bright people who have grown up in Vegas, but not many. I can make the case that no matter what age a person is, they are affected by how well educated everyone else is.

    9. William, we don't need any help.
      We get what we vote for.
      Want free vote for me.
      The bill passed to future generations.

    10. Hey Max.

      How many HS student given the opportunity of free college would take advantage of the opportunity? 90%?

      When it costs nothing, it has no value to people. Do we need taxi drivers with a liberal Arts degree? I believe we have lost our way in education and use college as a crutch. Many are not meant for college as a trade school would work well for them. We have no mechanism to determine that. At one time Brick Layers, electrician, plumbers, carpenters made decent wages, today we have relegated those professions to our illegals. If a person has to work for their tuition and make ends meet, they are motivated. Think free would have the same motivation?

      As a side note.

      Had a 50" spruce tree removed from the side of the house. Had 6 quotes. The lowest 400 bucks from 2 illegals and 1 guy who spoke English. 4 other companies would not guarantee American workers, 600-800 buck range. Hired a local company 5 guys all Americans, came out took down the tree for 1000 bucks. You pay for Americans but well worth it..

      Same deal for the house remodel only the price was competitive for the Americans as they gave me the materials at their cost. The other guys had cheaper labor but marked up all materials 30%.

    11. I don't think all would go to college, and in all honesty, I'd be plenty happy to have more cab drivers educated with a liberal arts degree. In fairness, I'll concede the point that giving something "Free" without work can kill motivation. But again, I feel like this is one of those things that gets portrayed as an absolute that will apply to every individual. My cousin, who is German, had "free" education and worked her butt of scholastically. I believe there will be just as many who work hard as there will be those who slack if education is free. My community college credits were quite cheap comparatively, and I would have worked hard regardless because I had a goal. As it stands, we already have a system in place wherein only the best and brightest will get into the best schools. We could subsidize that level of education on probably not have too much problem that people will slack. We could put out a lot more for community college and base tuition on grade result on a sliding scale. We already factor some subsidies based on family income, I think we could expand that.

      I would agree that not everyone is good for college. I was not remotely ready at 18 and it was a good ten years before I was ready. when I was ready, however, I worked my ass off and the cost of the tuition had nothing to do with it. By the time I am done with this degree, I will have spent probably about 120k when considering the cost of tuition, books, and the two years I didn't work and lived off of savings during my undergrad nursing degree. Tuition is just something I have paid, it has had no bearing on how hard I work.

      I agree that those who work harder for something will probably appreciate it more. At the moment, however, I think it is starting to get ridiculously difficult for those who do not have someone paying for their education. The business world is as much to blame as any Democrat you choose for allowing our trades to be taken over by illegal immigrants. We wanted unions busted and, mission accomplished. We now no longer have alternatives for people who don't go to college. I think what we want is for a majority of Americans to accept making what illegals make so that a small slice of America can live really well. Education has gotten needlessly expensive and the reality is that while we need jobs that uneducated people can do, we need to have more educated people in order to create better jobs. We aren't going back to living off production like China is. If we want better industry, we need more educated people.