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Poll: Over half of America's wealthiest say poor have it easy

A poll by Pew Research Center found over 50 percent of America's wealthiest thought "Poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return."

By Fred Lambert
Poll: Over half of America's wealthiest say poor have it easy
Demonstrators holds signs at a Tea Party rally at Freedom Plaza on tax day in Washington on April 15, 2010. A poll by Pew Research Center released in Jan. 2015 showed over half of America's wealthiest thought the poor had it easy due to government benefits. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Jan. 10 (UPI) -- Over half of America's richest citizens feel poor people have easy lives due to government benefits, according to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The poll showed 54 percent of America's most financially secure agreeing with the statement, "Poor people have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return."

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Of America's least financially secure, 67 percent agreed that "Poor people have hard lives because government benefits don't go far enough to help them live decently." Just 36 percent of the wealthiest Americans agreed.

Sixty-two percent of America's wealthiest believe the "Government can't afford to do more for the needy," while 60 percent of the nation's poorest felt the government should "do more for the needy, even if it means more debt."

Much of the sentiment stems from many of the richest Americans being politically conservative -- 40 percent, according to Pew. A similar Pew poll in June found three-quarters of conservatives thought the poor in America had it easy due to government benefits.

The numbers are reflected in opinions about corporations. Of America's least financially secure, 65 percent agreed that "Business corporations make too much profit." At the same time, 51 percent of America's wealthiest said, "Most corporations make a fair and reasonable amount of profit."

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The views of both groups were closer together when it came to government regulation. Fifty-two percent of the poorest and 55 percent of the richest Americans believe stricter environmental laws and regulations are "worth the cost." A similar number -- 52 percent of the poorest and 49 percent of the wealthiest -- also agree that government regulation "is necessary to protect the public interest."

Pew conducted the poll using Internet and mail surveys with 3,154 respondents.

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