WASHINGTON -- Income differences in the United States are too stark, and the government should provide jobs and training for those having a tough time, according to majorities in a national poll released yesterday .
About seven in 10 said discrepancies between income levels are too large, a sentiment voiced by nearly two-thirds of those from households earning at least $80,000 a year, the survey said. Three-fourths of people earning less than $80,000 agreed.
Eight in 10 said the gap between the rich and the middle class has expanded over the last 25 years, said the survey by the University of Connecticut's Center for Survey Research and Analysis.
The poll comes in the early stages of a 2008 presidential campaign in which several Democratic candidates have discussed a widening distance between the country's rich and poor.
Former North Carolina Senator John Edwards has made "two Americas" one of his favorite themes. Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois have also touched on the topic.
In the survey, 58 percent said large pay differences help get people to work harder. Yet 61 percent said such discrepancies are not needed for the country to prosper.
Two-thirds said the government should make sure there is a job for everyone who wants one. Small majorities said it should provide jobs for people who can't find private employment, increase federal training programs, and redistribute money with high taxes on the wealthy. Nearly two-thirds said it is not the government's responsibility to ease differences.