Poll: Americans Say Bernanke Cares More About Wall Street

By Chris Good

The Senate Banking Committee will vote on the renomination of Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke tomorrow, and he faces some vocal opposition: Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) pledged that he would "do everything I can to stop your nomination and drag out this process as long as I can," and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who is not a member of the committee, has placed a hold on Bernanke's nomination that would prevent the entire chamber from voting on it.

One of the main complaints is that Bernanke has been too friendly to banks under the government's bailout regime. According to a new poll, Americans agree.

In a new poll by Research 2000, 47 percent of respondents said Bernanke cares more about Wall Street; 20 percent said he cares more about "Main Street"; 33 percent weren't sure. The poll was commissioned by the Progressive Campaign Change Committee.

The question simplifies a central concept of the bank bailouts: that too-big-to-fail institutions on Wall Street are so integral to the functioning of the entire economy that they must be rescued, despite irresponsible behavior, in order to save the rest of us. In other words, the government was forced to tend to to Wall Street in order to save Main Street.

It is, however, an important question in politics. The administration can't be seen as too friendly to Wall Street as it carries out the overarching economic rescue--otherwise it will face a backlash of venomous public opposition to financial institutions and a mistrust of the government as it deals with them.

Bernanke has the support of Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT), and he will likely pass. It's unclear whether, or how long, a stalemate will continue on the Senate floor.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/12/poll-americans-say-bernanke-cares-more-about-wall-street/32150/