Americans Blame Government, Not Banks, For The State Of The Economy

Gallup would seem to indicate that the real protests should be on Capitol Hill, not Wall Street:

Americans are more than twice as likely to blame the federal government in Washington (64%) for the economic problems facing the United States as they are the financial institutions on Wall Street (30%).

Both of these large entities have been the target of protest groups this year. The Occupy Wall Street movement has focused on large financial institutions on Wall Street, while the Tea Party movement continues to focus mainly on the federal government.

There appears to be no shortage of blame for either of these entities. The Oct. 15-16 USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans how much they blame the federal government for the economy and, separately, how much they blame financial institutions on Wall Street. More than three-quarters of Americans, in both cases, say these entities deserve a great deal or a fair amount of blame for the economic problems facing the U.S. Still, reflecting the results of the forced-choice question, the percentage saying the federal government deserves a great deal of blame is 11 points higher than the percentage for financial institutions on Wall Street.

The ideological breakdown is, as always, interesting:

In realty, there’s blame in both directions, but it’s a government that has strayed far beyond it’s proper limits to the point where it regularly engages in manipulation of markets to the benefit of some and the detriment of others that is, I would submit, largely responsible for our current predicament. If you want to change “the system” you have to actually go to the source, and asking for more government isn’t going to accomplish anything.

 

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    It’s a stupid question both because the interaction is there, as you say, but also because you can be thinking of entirely opposing “government” actions.

    I bet you weren’t thinking “deregulation and free trade bills.”

  2. Yeah, what would be more interesting is something like:

    On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being not responsible at all and 10 being completely responsible, how responsible for the current state of the economy belongs to each of the following groups:

    1. President Obama
    2. President Bush
    3. Congress
    4. Federal Regulators
    5. Securities Brokers
    6. Mortgage Lenders
    7. Banks
    8. Homebuyers

    etc.

  3. WR says:

    It’s not about “asking for more government.” It’s about demanding better government.

    Maybe when Gary Johnson or some other certified non-hippie says exactly the same thing you’ll be able to hear it.

  4. Fiona says:

    It’s not about “asking for more government.” It’s about demanding better government.

    Perhaps if regulatory agencies had done their jobs, and if the repeal of Glass-Steagel hadn’t allowed banks free reign to engage in all sorts of questionable and risky economic behavior leading up to the bailout, we wouldn’t be in the predicament we’re in. Canadian banks remained solid precisely because of regulations that prevented the kind of bad investments American banks gravitated toward in their efforts to increase the bottom line.

    Yeah, government is too blame but not because it strayed beyond it’s limits. Rather, it was inefficient and in cahoots with the finance industry.

  5. Can someone free my comment from moderation?

  6. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…

    “…In realty, there’s blame in both directions, but it’s a government that has strayed far beyond it’s proper limits to the point where it regularly engages in manipulation of markets to the benefit of some and the detriment of others that is, I would submit, largely responsible for our current predicament. If you want to change “the system” you have to actually go to the source, and asking for more government isn’t going to accomplish anything…”

    Actually…because you clearly aren’t paying attention…the government is shrinking and the economic boom that your Libertarian myths talk about ain’t happening. In Texas the government is growing…and many on the nutty side of the aisle are calling it a miracle.
    Perhaps you need to re-calibrate your fantasies a tad? ‘Cause they ain’t matching reality.
    As WR hints said: it’s not about the false (and small-minded) dichotomy of big or small…it’s good government that’s important.
    I’m just sayin’

  7. Norm,

    The government isn’t shrinking at all, not in real terms

  8. Ben Wolf says:

    Doug has already acknowledged that capitalism ain’t getting the job done with his “this is just how the economy is now” post from yesterday. Newsflash: if our capitalism is making us poorer, then we need a new capitalism, don’t we? And don’t even bother with the “get government out of markets” foolishness, capitalism is a creation of the state. Period.

  9. Hey Norm says:

    @ Doug…
    Really…all the teachers and fire fighters and cops that have been laid off all across the country weren’t part of the government? ‘Cause I’m pretty sure they were government employees. Yeah…it was definitely the states that laid them off. It certainly wasn’t the private sector. And I’m pretty sure when you lay off 250,000 teachers…government by definition is smaller…in very real terms.

  10. Norm,

    At no level has the size or scope of government been reduced. The fact that personnel have been reduced does nothing to reduce the power of government to intervene in the economy and the private lives of citizens.

  11. sam says:

    Of course the question Is the government to blame for our predicament is susceptible of diametrically opposed reasons in answer.

    “Hell yeah, it is. It should’ve regulated the shit out of those banks.”

    vs

    “Hell yeah, it is. There was too damned much regulation of those banks.”

  12. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The government isn’t shrinking at all, not in real terms

    Imprecision makes this false. Total government spending, from local to federal, is shrinking and is austerity.

    If you cover one eye, and only look at Federal spending, you can pretend not to see that.

  13. @john personna:

    The only thing that is happening at the Federal level is a reduction in the rate of growth. In real terms, Federal spending, even under the plan adopted in August, is still increasing in real terms.

    The states are a slightly different story because they are required to balance their budgets. But, still, cutting your budget and reducing the effective control you have over the economy and the people are two very different things.

  14. john personna says:
  15. john personna says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    The only thing that is happening at the Federal level is a reduction in the rate of growth. In real terms, Federal spending, even under the plan adopted in August, is still increasing in real terms.

    GDP and population are also growing “in real terms.”

  16. Hey Norm says:

    “… reduce the power of government to intervene in the economy and the private lives of citizens…”
    That’s about reach and power…not size.
    If you eliminate 250,000 jobs the size is…again, by definition…reduced.
    As for reach and power…I enjoy knowing that the filet I’m grilling tonight has been inspected, and that the structure of the building I work in meets certain standards.
    I would also prefer that large banks did not gamble the economy of the free world on magical financial instruments. Eliminating government will not advance that cause. Good government might.
    I will never ever forget Dick Cheney at the beginning of the Enron debacle saying that it’s just the free-market working and the problem was that California “didn’t really de-regulate”. Eliminating government would not have prevented shareholders from losing $11B. Good government might have.
    Libertarian fantasies just do not pass the real-world test.

  17. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gallup would seem to indicate that the real protests should be on Capitol Hill, not Wall Street

    Proof positive that Americans are stupid. Why in FSM’s name would anyone go to the puppet when the puppet master is right there in front of you? Doug, reality beckons.

  18. george says:

    Proof positive that Americans are stupid. Why in FSM’s name would anyone go to the puppet when the puppet master is right there in front of you? Doug, reality beckons.

    Because the puppet master can happily ignore you, secure that you’re consuming their toys (iPads etc) even while protesting? If you get enough people who are willing to vote, you can change laws, putting bounds on the puppet masters.

  19. Tlaloc says:

    In realty, there’s blame in both directions, but it’s a government that has strayed far beyond it’s proper limits to the point where it regularly engages in manipulation of markets to the benefit of some and the detriment of others that is, I would submit, largely responsible for our current predicament.

    No. Actually, Hell no. The current economic predicament came about almost entirely due to not enough regulation. The banks started playing with drecit default swaps precisely because it was a new unregulated market which ended up proving two things:

    1) yes unregulated markets can make a lot of money, AND
    2) unregulated markets are also a ridiculously huge threat to the overall econpomy.

    In other words, they made huge amounts of money and then crashed the whole system. It was exactly the lack of regulation to blame (and the efforts of the banks to avoid regulation because they were that special combination of arrogant and greedy that really should qualify one for a firing squad to save the rest of us a lot of heartache).

    There was in no way shape or form a preponderance of government at fault here. Like not even the tiniest shred of truth to that Doug.

  20. Tlaloc says:

    Why should the government shrink at all? Corporations are getting bigger every day and the primary purpose of the US government at this point is to provide a brake on the power and downright misanthropy of corporate america.

  21. A voice from another precinct says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Yeah, Norm. They haven’t repealed the regulations that Doug wants repealed, yet. Try to keep up.

  22. Gerry W. says:

    It depends where you live and how you are affected. For me, it is government (free trade) picking and choosing jobs. We gave up 1/3 of our manufacturing and we told years ago that we would be a service and/or an information society. So, with most of the factories closed and store fronts, I am looking at 30% to 40% unemployment. And there is nothing to replace what we lost.

    Now, having said that, globalization is happening with or without the government. And that means the government has to invest in the country, invest in the people, and invest in the future to deal with globalization. And not keep running on foolish ideologies. The politicians keep talking about tax policy. Well, where were they when the Bush tax cuts was not working? Where were they as our jobs left the country? They are trying to move the goalposts and say they have a jobs plan, while the middle class lost long ago. And tax policy, by itself, will not be good enough.