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Poll: Politicians trusted more than business leaders on economy

  • Story Highlights
  • 30 percent express confidence Wall Street will make right decisions to end recession
  • 75 percent say President Obama will make the right moves regarding recession
  • Poll: Obama has more Republicans trusting him than Wall Street has
  • Majority opposes providing rest of bailout money to banks
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By Paul Steinhauser
CNN Deputy Political Director
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Call it a sign of the times. A new national poll indicates that when it comes to dealing with the economy, Americans have more confidence in the White House and Congress than Wall Street, the banks or auto executives.

A new poll says Americans trust the government more than Wall Street to deal with the economy.

A new poll says Americans trust the government more than Wall Street to deal with the economy.

And that may be one reason why a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday suggests the public opposes plans to provide more taxpayer dollars to banks and major domestic automakers.

Thirty percent of those questioned said they're confident Wall Street will make the right decisions to help the country overcome the current recession. Slightly fewer -- 28 percent -- said they had such confidence in bankers and financial executives. And 26 percent said they're confident that auto executives will make the right economic decisions.

But 53 percent of those questioned said they have confidence in Republicans in Congress making the right calls regarding the economy. About 66 percent said they have confidence Democrats, who control Congress, will make the right economic decisions. And 75 percent said they think President Barack Obama will make the right moves when it comes dealing with the recession.

"You know times are tough when Republicans have more confidence in a Democratic president than they do in bankers or Wall Street investors, but that's what the poll is showing now," said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Among Republicans, 37 percent say they are confident in Obama's ability to make the right economic decisions, but only 31 percent of Republicans feel that way about Wall Street."

"Labor union leaders don't fare badly either," said Bill Schneider, CNN senior political analyst. "Nearly half the public has confidence in them. But Wall Street investors? Bankers and financial executives? Auto company executives? No more than 30 percent have confidence in them.

"Right now, Americans trust political leaders more than business leaders. That's new and it has consequences."

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The poll suggests those consequences. Only 37 percent of those questioned in the survey favored more government aid for the ailing domestic automakers. Two of the major U.S. auto companies have asked the federal government for several billion dollars in assistance -- money the companies say they may need to stay out of bankruptcy.

When it comes to taxpayer dollars to help the banks and other financial institutions, just 36 percent favored providing the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion that Congress allocated to assist them, with 62 percent opposed.

"Business scandals [are] everywhere," Schneider said. "Alleged multibillion-dollar swindlers Bernie Madoff and Robert Allen Stanford; ... Swiss banks helping Americans hide their money; ... huge bonuses for Wall Street executives: Does the public expect those people to bail the country out? Well, no."

But what about homeowners who can't pay their mortgages?

"Government programs to help ordinary Americans are much more popular," Holland said. "Six in 10 favor federal assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure."

Schneider added: "They're generally seen as ordinary people who made bad financial decisions. The majority says they deserve government help."

The poll also asked about a program that would increase the federal government's influence over the country's health-care system in hopes of lowering costs and proving health-care coverage to more Americans.

"The last time the government tried that, back in 1994, it didn't work. The health-care business put up fierce resistance," Schneider said.

But, Holland noted, "more than 7 in 10 [in the current poll] say that they would favor a proposal that would increase the government's influence over the health-care system in an attempt to reduce costs and expand coverage."

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday, after the president signed the $787 billion stimulus package into law, with 1,046 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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