10.20.2011 0

Gallup Poll: 64 Percent Blame Gov’t for Weak Economy

By Robert Romano — In the context of the ongoing Wall Street protests, a new poll (Oct. 15-16) from Gallup has found Americans by a nearly two-to-one margin blame government more than financial institutions for the weak economy.

Every single political group: Republicans (82 percent), Independents (65 percent), and even Democrats (49 percent) all blame the government more than Wall Street. Pretty decisive.

In fact, the only segment of the population that blames financial institutions more is supporters of the Occupy Wall Street protests (54 percent). But, even then, 44 percent of protest supporters believe government is more to blame. Unsurprisingly, 82 percent supporters of the Tea Party movement blame government more.

Interestingly, however, Gallup also reports that Americans believe that “in both cases, say these entities deserve a great deal or a fair amount of blame for the economic problems facing the U.S.” The poll finds 87 percent who believe the government deserves a great deal or moderate amount of blame, and 78 percent who believe Wall Street does.

“Both the Tea Party movement, which has targeted the federal government, and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has targeted big financial institutions, are in sync with significant segments of the U.S. population,” the report notes.

The report also notes that “it would appear that neither of these movements can afford to dismiss or ignore dissatisfaction with the ‘other’ entity they are not explicitly targeting.”

They actually probably can, since they are political movements calling attention to a particular issue or set of issues, not elected political leaders. Fulfilling a niche is to be expected.

In that sense, they may be two sides of the same coin, both born of the financial crisis that wrecked the economy, albeit with different solutions to the problem.

But, Gallup also has some advice for politicians who do require a broader approval of the population, in particular, Democrats. The report writes, “This would seem to be particularly relevant to Democratic candidates for office, including Barack Obama, whose possible efforts to adopt the ‘blame Wall Street’ positioning as a major part of their campaigns could risk failing to acknowledge the even larger enmity the public holds for the federal government itself.”

“The results are not at all surprising,” said Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government. “Government policies brought about and made possible the housing bubble that wrecked the economy. HUD imposed the ‘affordable housing goals’ on Fannie and Freddie, weakening underwriting standards, FHA lowered down payments, and the Federal Reserve provided the liquidity necessary for the crisis by keeping interest rates too low for too long.”

Wilson recently penned a piece, “Wall Street protestors scratch the surface” that anticipates the results of this poll, arguing that government policies have created “a system of multiple leveraging, where literally every bank has its own printing press” that made the crisis possible.

Minus those government policies, the leverage that sunk the economy in 2008 would not be possible. For Republicans looking to thread the needle in 2012, they would do well to point out how government policies caused the financial crisis, and to hold accountable any opponent who supports maintaining those policies.

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

Copyright © 2008-2021 Americans for Limited Government