Poll Finds Americans Support Increased Business Regulation

January 14, 2009

A clear majority of Americans believe government regulation of business should be increased, a new poll showed Wednesday.

The poll, conducted by Public Strategies Inc. and the Politico news organization, found that more than seven in 10 Americans think U.S. business is on the wrong track, and 67 percent think federal regulation of businesses should be increased.

The poll, first in a quarterly survey to monitor Americans’ trust in public and private institutions, followed a Wall Street collapse that has contributed to a dampening in consumer spending and deepened the recession.

Mark McKinnon, vice chairman of Public Strategies, said the results of the poll showed a a clear change from nearly 30 years ago when Republican President Ronald Reagan was swept to power by disparaging government as the problem, not the solution.

“That’s really shifted here,” he said. “Voters seem to be saying that government is the solution, or at least a big part of it.”

The incoming administration of President-elect Barack Obama is expected to make a push for increased government regulation of the financial industry as a result of the Wall Street meltdown.

Voters appear to be looking toward Obama for change. The poll found 62 percent of Americans surveyed said their confidence in government and in the business community had fallen over the past year.

The poll showed support for Obama in putting together an economic stimulus package aimed at re-energizing the U.S. economy.

It said 45 percent believed the government’s top priority over the next year is to bring forth an economic stimulus package that will employ out-of-work Americans. Only 12 percent cited a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq as the government’s top priority for the next 12 months.

The survey said 46 percent would prefer the stimulus be used for direct spending on infrastructure programs over investments in corporations to protect existing jobs.

(Reporting by Steve Holland)

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