Majority of Americans Believe Financial Reform a Top Priority for Congress and the President
Most Americans—59 percent—believe Congress and the President need to reform our financial system now, according to a national poll commissioned by the Pew Financial Reform Project and conducted by a bipartisan team consisting of The Mellman Group and Ayres, McHenry & Associates.
Americans feel reforming the financial sector is a top priority for the nation, even in the face of other pressing issues such as education and immigration reform, the war in Afghanistan and even health care. When asked to rate key national priorities, 37 percent of Americans say that preventing another financial crisis and 27 percent of Americans say passing financial reform are two of the most important national priorities on which Congress and the president should focus – following only creating jobs and ensuring that bailouts provided to Wall Street banks are paid back.
“Americans understand that their jobs and personal economic situations are closely tied to the overall health and well-being of the financial sector,” said John E. Morton, managing director of Pew's Economic Policy Group. “It's clear that voters overwhelmingly favor financial reform that will protect consumers, create an early warning system, improve transparency and end the dangerous ‘Too Big To Fail' dynamic. These results send a message that Congress should take action now – to fix the current system and to prevent another crisis down the road.”
The survey queried 1,000 likely voters in the 2010 midterm election. Nearly half (44 percent) believe that it is likely that the country will endure another financial crisis within the next three years. A report on the results is posted at www.pewfr.org.
The survey reinforced the personal impact of the economic downturn, finding that 46 percent of voters have lost their own job, had a member of their household lose a job, or had a close family or friend lose a job because of the financial crisis, while 53 percent have lost some, most or all of their savings.
Further, the survey found that inaction by Congress to pass financial reform legislation could significantly impact the November midterm elections, with potentially significant consequences especially for incumbents. Fifty percent of likely voters indicated they would feel more favorable towards their member of Congress if he or she voted for financial reform, and 46 percent indicated they would feel less favorable about their legislator if Congress failed to act this year. Only 18 percent said they would be more likely to reelect their representative if Congress does not take action on financial reform this year, while 40 percent reported that they would be more likely to vote against reelecting their Congress member.
Key elements of financial reform – creating an early warning system that finds and deals with signs of troubles before they hurt American households; ending “Too Big To Fail” and bailouts that put taxpayers at risk; greater transparency of markets to protect the interests of American families and ensure that financial firms act responsibly; and protecting consumers from harmful business practices – received overwhelming support, more than 80 percent, from likely voters.
The poll was conducted from March 4-8, 2010 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent.
Pew is no longer active in this line of work, but for more information, visit the main Pew Financial Reform page.