Income Inequality Unites Democrats and Republicans

The question of income equality is actually unifying voters, and it’s reaching across all party lines, according to a recent Morning Consult poll. A majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents say they’re dissatisfied with the way income and wealth is distributed in the U.S., a consensus that’s prompting some lawmakers and congressional candidates to address those concerns.

In fact, if legislation pertaining to income inequality were put to a vote, poll respondents would have a veto-proof majority. Sixty-six percent of Americans are unsatisfied with the widening income gap, with 71 percent of Democrats voicing their displeasure, followed by 67 percent of independents and 60 percent of Republicans.

That level of concern coincides with what voters say is their number one motivation for heading to the polls in November: the economy. But anyone expecting Congress to do anything meaningful to tackle income inequality may end up disappointed, according to Dan Crawford of the Economic Policy Institute.

“The biggest way that this is showing up legislatively is with the minimum wage campaigns at the state level,” said Crawford, a spokesman for the Washington-based think tank. “With Congress being so gridlocked right now, I think people are turning to the states for those options because they’re not going to see anything in Washington.”

He said 10 states have passed minimum wage increases in 2014, almost double the amount from the year before.

The issue appears to have staying power. Critics of the widening income gap drew the general public’s attention in 2011 with Occupy Wall Street, and the following year wealth distribution played a prominent in the presidential campaign. Last year, French economist Thomas Piketty kept the conversation going with the publication of his book “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”

Piketty was even mentioned in a congressional debate this week between incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) and challenger Ro Khanna, a fellow Democrat. Both promised to address the issue in Congress.

Morning Consult