The current economic structure of the country is out of balance and favors a very small proportion of the rich over the rest of the country. America needs to reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency. The government should not provide financial aid to corporations and should not provide tax breaks to the rich.
The block of text above was not lifted from an Occupy Wall Street protester's overly verbose sign, as much as it expresses common sentiment among the occupiers. No, that text was taken from an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released last night. Respondents were asked if they "strongly agree, mildly agree, feel neutral about, mildly disagree, or strongly disagree" with the statement and the majority agreed -- overwhelmingly. 76% said they agreed with the statement, with 60% agreeing strongly.
In the same poll, respondents were asked if they agreed with a more tea-flavored statement; "The national debt must be cut significantly by reducing spending and the size of government,including eliminating some federal agencies and programs. Regulations on business by the federal government should be reduced and instead, the private sector and individuals should have greater control. The government should not raise taxes on anyone."
53% agreed, with 33% agreeing strongly. Obviously, there's some overlap here of those who want to be able to have their cake and eat it too. After all, you can't "reduce the power of major banks and corporations and demand greater accountability and transparency," while saying that "regulations on business by the federal government should be reduced and instead, the private sector and individuals should have greater control." It really has to be one or the other.
But the big takeaway here is that the first statement is wildly more popular than the second. ThinkProgress makes that distinction by removing that overlap and looking only at the "strongly agrees" -- filtered that way, the OWS-flavored statement is nearly twice as popular as the tea-flavored statement.
So Republicans can stop talking about "what the American people want" any time now. The American people clearly want that which the GOP most strongly opposes.
The same poll shows that, when asked if they approve of President Obama's handling of the economy, 59% disapprove. Not extremely surprising, given the state of the economy. But when it comes to who's responsible for that economy, 36% blame Wall Street, 34% blame George W. Bush, and only 21% blame Obama. So the president's low economic approvals aren't the result of people blaming him for problems, but because of his inability to fix them quickly enough.
And, when it comes to who's better on the economy -- Republicans or Obama -- the president clearly comes out on top. When asked who's to blame for not finding solutions to "the problems facing America," 56% blame congressional Republicans, 57% blame Democrats, and 36% blame President Obama.
Which goes a long way toward explaining why Obama is still preferred by the voters -- albeit narrowly. 45% say they'll probably vote for Obama, while 42% say they'll vote for a generic GOP nominee. But when you get more specific, the GOP presidential field does worse; Obama leads the top named candidate -- Mitt Romney -- 49% to 43%. And Herman Cain gets trounced, 38% to 53%. The GOP field is echoing congressional Republicans, which won't serve them well in the general election.
But go back to that first, OWS-flavered statement. 76% agree with that. The national conversation has turned from deficit reduction (foolish in a weak economy in any case) to economic inequality. A year ago, that would've seemed unthinkable. It's clear that, in this economic debate, Occupy Wall Street is winning.