WASHINGTON, April 1 – Overwhelming numbers of furious Americans back a cap on executive pay at bailed-out firms and a slim majority oppose President Barack Obama\’s banking rescue plan, a new poll said Wednesday.
Obama\’s robust personal ratings have dipped a notch in the wave of populist rage, but Republican attacks on the Democratic leader\’s big-spending budget plan appear to be falling flat, according to the survey by Quinnipiac University.
"President Barack Obama may be trying to dampen the populist rhetoric, but the American people are mad as hell and aren\’t taking it any more," said Quinnipiac assistant director of polling Peter Brown.
"They want to vent their anger on the wealthy and on business. They think the folks who got the country into the financial mess are both stupid and crooked, and want the government to burn them at the stake."
By a huge margin of 81 percent to 16 percent, the poll said, voters believe the Obama administration should limit executive compensation at companies that receive federal bailout money.
Just 14 percent said executives of failing companies were victims of circumstance, while 39 percent said the bosses were incompetent and 35 percent said they were guilty of fraud.
The finding came after a furor over steep bonuses given to executives at insurance giant American International Group (AIG), which is in a parlous state despite receiving more than 170 billion dollars in government rescue funds.
A majority of 58-31 percent in the poll approved of Obama\’s performance. That was compared to 59-25 percent in the university\’s last survey of March 4. His handling of the economy meanwhile won 55-37 percent support.
And while Republicans have been hammering Obama\’s budget proposal, the 3.6-trillion-dollar plan was backed by a margin of 51-45 percent as necessary to fix the economy, education and healthcare.
In more bad news for Republicans, the opposition party in Congress had a disapproval rating of 59-30 percent, compared to 49-40 disapproval of Democrats.
Voters do oppose Obama\’s costly plan to rescue the US banking industry by 50-43 percent, the pollsters said.
And just 37 percent approved of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner\’s job performance. Thirty-five percent disapproved, and 28 percent were undecided.
"About the only Obama initiative voters don\’t support is his one-trillion-dollar plan to buy bad loans from banks — because they view it as taking their hard-earned money to help rich bankers," Brown said.
But "Republican efforts to convince the American people that President Obama is going too far are not working," he added.
"Voters don\’t seem to be upset by the huge dollars that the president wants to spend, even when told that his budget would double the national debt in a decade."
The poll of 2,326 voters was conducted from March 24 to 30 and has a margin of error of two percentage points.