WASHINGTON (CNN) - Pennsylvania Avenue beats out Wall Street in a new national poll: the survey suggests Americans have more confidence in economic decision-making coming from the White House and Congress than from Wall Street, the banks or auto executives.
And that may be one reason why a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Monday suggests that the public opposes plans to provide more taxpayer dollars to the banks and the major domestic automakers.
Three out of 10 questioned in the poll said they're confident that Wall Street will make the right decisions to help the country overcome the current economic recession. That number drops 2 points to 28 percent when asked about bankers and financial executives. And only 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. Even more - two out of three - expressed confidence that the Democrats who control Congress will make the right economic decisions. And three out of four 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," added CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider. "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."
The poll suggests those consequences. Only 37 percent of those questioned in the survey favored more government for the ailing domestic automakers. Two of the major U.S. auto companies have asked the federal government for a program that would provide them with several billion dollars in assistance; money that Detroit says they may need to stay out of bankruptcy. Sixty-one percent opposed the assistance.
When it comes to taxpayer dollars to help the banks and financial institutions, just 36 percent favored providing the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion allocated by Congress to assist the banks and other large financial institutions, with 62 percent opposed.
"Business scandals everywhere! 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," Schneider said.
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 and seven in 10 support government programs to lower health-care costs."
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 seven 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 stimulus package into law, with 1,046 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.