chapter  6
28 Pages

Redistributive Policy

WithJames R. Kluegel, Eliot R. Smith

In this chapter, the authors address two broad questions concerning public attitudes on redistributive policy. Has opposition to the redistribution of incomes truly increased, as impressionistic evidence suggests? What factors shape the ways in which the American public responds to redistributive programs? The authors describe the answer for these questions with regard to two types of redistributive policy: redistribution toward the poor and redistribution away from the rich. Guaranteed jobs represent a disguised form of redistribution, since it may not be clear to many people that the government would have to tax to provide such jobs. The focus on welfare in political debate may have also created the impression that public spending on welfare is truly massive in scope, further feeling anger among the nonpoor who see themselves as struggling under heavy tax burdens. Inequality tendency is part of the general strength of "symbolic politics" over concrete issues in shaping political attitudes.