There is also partisan disagreement on the most important reasons for the gap between the rich and the poor. Republicans (39%) are most likely to say it exists because some people work harder than others. Democrats (17%) and independents (23%) are much less likely to blame the poor’s work ethic.
Republicans (28%) also say inequality is a product of government economic policies, a view held by 24% of Americans overall. Democrats (20%) and independents (25%) are less likely to point the finger at government, putting more emphasis on shortcomings of the U.S. education system. A fifth of Democrats and 17% of independents (17%) cite the educational system as the most important reason for the rich-poor gap compared with just 9% of Republicans.
Republicans and Democrats also strongly disagree on the role of taxes in addressing the gap between the rich and the poor. About seven-in-ten Republicans (71%) favor a policy of low taxes on the wealthy and corporations to encourage investment and economic growth as a means of reducing inequality. The same number of Democrats (71%) back high taxes on the rich and companies to support programs that help the poor. A plurality of independents (48%) also favor high taxes.