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Pew Poll: Most Americans Believe Rich Pay 'Too Little' In Taxes

Tax rates have been a constant theme of this election cycle. Mostly, it's because Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is one of the wealthiest men to run for president and the rate at which he has paid federal taxes has been the subject of much discussion.

Today the Pew Center has some survey numbers that addressed these issues. It found that 58 percent of Americans believe the rich should pay more in taxes. About a quarter of Americans believe the rich pay their fair share and only 8 percent believe they pay too much.

Pew adds:

"Even among those who consider themselves upper or upper-middle class, fully 52% say upper-income people pay too little. Only 10% of this group says upper-class adults say people pay too much in taxes."

As Pew puts it, the survey also found that most Americans believe what F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: the rich are "different from you and me."

Of course these numbers also have political consequences.

Pew found that 63 percent of those surveyed said the Republican party favors the rich. Close to 70 percent said the Democratic party favors either the middle class or the poor.

The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza reports that a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found pretty much the same thing and that highlights what he says is Romney's "rich guy problem."

Cillizza writes that during the next four days at the Republican National Convention, Romney will try to soften that issue.

Cillizza writes:

"What Romney and the convention planners will likely do is try to place his wealth in a broader context of his life story: someone who did achieve affluence but rather than luxuriate in it went on to help save the Salt Lake City Olympics, serve as governor of Massachusetts and then pursue the presidency.

"Viewed in that context, Romney will likely try to cast himself who has dedicated the second part of his life to public service for no other reason than he felt called to do so. That sort of noble sacrifice narrative is much more sellable than the story Democrats have — successfully — told about Romney to date: That of a rich guy just looking for another award to pin on his lapel."

That said, the Pew poll found that vast majority of middle- and lower-class admire the "people who get rich by working hard." Ninety-two percent of middle class respondents said that and 84 percent of poor respondents said that.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.