Wednesday, Sept 24, 2008
Americans oppose government rescues of ailing financial companies by a decisive margin, and blame Wall Street and President George W. Bush for the credit crisis.
By a margin of 55 percent to 31 percent, Americans say it’s not the government’s responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayer dollars, even if their collapse could damage the economy, according to the latest Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll.
Poll respondents say Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama would do a better job handling the financial crisis than Republican John McCain, by a margin of 45 percent to 33 percent. Almost half of voters say the Democrat has better ideas to strengthen the economy than his Republican opponent.
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Six weeks before the presidential election, almost 80 percent of Americans say the U.S. is going in the wrong direction, the biggest percentage since the poll began asking that question in 1991.
After market chaos this month drove Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. into bankruptcy and prompted federal takeovers of American International Group Inc., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, most survey respondents said financial companies shouldn’t expect taxpayers to rush to the rescue.
“Why should we help companies that can’t help themselves?” Tara Rook, 36, a Republican voter in Medford, New Jersey, asked in a follow-up interview. “The government is getting way too involved with private companies.”
Almost two out of three people surveyed also oppose government loans to help automakers. Congress is set to vote on a bill this month that includes $25 billion in low-interest loans to General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles.
In spite of opposition to government intervention in the private sector, Congress is likely to pass legislation to let the Treasury buy distressed assets from troubled financial institutions. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says a $700 billion rescue plan is needed to revive credit markets.