As the calendar approaches September 15, marking the anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the nation is reminded of that historical event which severed the very fabric of our financial system.[IMAGE]
It's been five years since that fateful day, and the ""Center for Responsible Lending"":http://www.responsiblelending.org/ (CRL) says Americans-regardless of political party, age, race, or locale-overwhelmingly support financial regulation, and in particular, increased consumer protections.
CRL and Americans for Financial Reform contracted a research group to poll 1,004 likely voters on their feelings toward Wall Street, reform measures that have been implemented, and reforms that have been proposed. They found consumer support for tough financial reform and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) remains strong.
While the issue of financial regulation has been an area of contention in Washington, the survey actually found that the electorate overwhelmingly favors it, with 96 percent of Democrats, 95 percent of Independents, and 89 percent of Republicans saying they believe financial regulation is ""important"" or ""very important.""[COLUMN_BREAK]
Overall, 83 percent of voters (including 89 percent of Democrats, 82 percent of Independents, and 75 percent of Republicans) said they favor tougher regulation of ""Wall Street financial companies"" when that statement is presented alongside the alternative of ""their practices have changed enough that they don't need further regulation.""
Meanwhile, 64 percent of voters said they see a need for an agency charged to protect consumers from dangerous financial products. By contrast, 26 percent agreed with a counter-argument depicting the CFPB as an example of expensive and unnecessary federal bureaucracy. Notably, though, 40 percent of respondents said they have no opinion or have not heard of the new consumer protection agency.
Nevertheless, after hearing arguments both for and against financial reform, 63 percent of voters agreed that Wall Street should be held accountable and prevented from repeating past actions, and 67 percent held a favorable view of the stepped-up oversight of mortgage brokers and other financial industry players.
Support for financial regulation, however, coexists with a widespread view of debt problems as a reflection of ""personal irresponsibility."" When asked to choose, 30 percent of voters point to personal irresponsibility, while 44 percent prefer an alternative statement that ""lenders need rules"" and should have to provide clear information ""so people can make wise choices."" At the same time, 22 percent of voters say they support both propositions equally.