Tags: bailout | poll

Most Americans Say Bailouts Benefit Wall Street

Monday, 20 Jul 2009 10:09 AM

Eighty percent of Americans now say Wall Street benefited more from the bailout of the financial industry than the average U.S. taxpayer.

Only eight percent of adults say the taxpayer benefited more, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Twelve percent are not sure.

This marks a notable increase in skepticism from October when 63 percent saw Wall Street as the chief beneficiary as the first bailout of the financial industry was working its way through Congress. In February when the Obama administration announced another bank bailout plan, 67 percent said Wall Street would benefit more than taxpayers.

Goldman Sachs, one of the Wall Street recipients of a bailout, repaid that money in June. The firm, which also has benefited from cheap government financing, is now reporting a record profit for the last quarter and has announced plans for billions in employee bonuses. Forty-one percent say Goldman Sachs’ record profit makes them less supportive of the federal bailout of the financial industry while only 16 percent say it makes them more supportive.

Thirty-eight percent say the company’s report of record profits has had no impact on their views.

The federal government still owns Goldman Sachs stock it received as part of the bailout plan, but the company now wants to buy it back. However, 51 percent of Americans think it’s a better idea to give the stock to U.S. taxpayers. Thirty-five percent say the government should sell the stock back to Goldman Sachs. Fourteen percent are undecided.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans continue to believe it was a bad idea for the federal government to provide billions of taxpayer dollars in bailout funding for banks and other financial institutions. Twenty-six percent disagree and say the bailouts were a good idea, and 17 percent are undecided.

This opposition has been consistent since a government bailout for the financial industry was first proposed last September.

There is little partisan disagreement that Wall Street benefited more than the average taxpayer, but that consensus breaks down over support for the bailout itself.

Seventy-two percent of Republicans and 65 percent of adults not affiliated with either major political party say the bailout funding for banks and other financial institutions was a bad idea. But Democrats are evenly divided over the question.

Similarly, all three groups are closely divided over whether Goldman Sachs’ record profit makes them less supportive of the bailout or has no impact on their view of it.

But while 50 percent of Republicans say the government should sell its stock in Goldman Sachs back to the company, 58 percent of Democrats and 53 percent of unaffiliateds say the stock should be given to taxpayers.

If a company receives a bailout to stay in business and has yet to pay it back, 67 percent of Americans say the government should regulate executive pay and bonuses. If a company repays its bailout funds, 61 percent say the government should not regulate its executive compensation.

President Obama last month announced a major expansion of government regulatory controls over the financial industry to prevent a repeat of last fall’s economic meltdown. Forty-seven percent of Americans oppose more regulation of the U.S. financial system, but 33 percent favor it.

In a survey in April, 48 percent of Americans were at least somewhat confident in the stability of the U.S. banking system, while 46 percent were not very or not at all confident. In July of last year, 68 percent were confident in the banking system’s stability.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe most of the taxpayer money given out as bailouts went to the very people who created the country’s current economic crisis.

This is explained in part by the finding that 70 percent of U.S. voters believe that big business and big government generally work together against the interests of investors and consumers.

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