NASHVILLE, Tenn. - In Tennessee and across the country, people want real financial reform - and they want it now, according to a new poll from the Pew Charitable Trusts. The poll found that Americans believe the financial reform being debated in Congress is hugely important, and vital to returning confidence to the economy.
For example, nearly half of those polled reported either losing a job or being "close to" someone who has. Gordon McDonald, director of the Pew Financial Project, says people feel frustrated that two years have passed without Congress addressing the root causes of the financial meltdown.
"Particularly this notion that certain financial institutions or certain banks are 'too big to fail,' is a notion I think that really does not sit well with many Americans."
McDonald says people are paying close attention to the debate. The poll found the issue is so important to voters that, if politicians don't manage to agree on financial reform, they could pay in November - by being voted out of office.
"Fifty-nine percent of voters thought Congress and the Administration should support financial reform now, over other priorities - including health care, immigration reform, the war in Afghanistan and education reform."
For Americans to consider the reforms effective, McDonald says, it must accomplish four things: Put an early warning system in place; allow for restraining or breaking up banks that get too big; increase transparency in the banking industry; and protect consumers from unfair practices.
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says the reforms now being debated would institutionalize bank bailouts; Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman counters that they would institutionalize bailouts - the way fire departments 'institutionalize' house fires.