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64% Say Government Hasn’t Been Tough Enough On Wall Street

Many Americans believe the country's economic meltdown was primarily due to criminal behavior by some financial executives, and a sizable majority feel the federal government has not been aggressive enough in pursuing criminal behavior by top Wall Street executives.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 47% of American Adults think criminal behavior by some in the financial industry was the primary cause of the meltdown. Twenty-eight percent (28%) blame insufficient government regulation, while only 12% say it was due to uncontrollable economic circumstances. Thirteen percent (13%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Just 13% believe the government has been aggressive enough in pursuing possible criminal behavior by major Wall Street bankers. Sixty-four percent (64%) disagree and say the government has not been aggressive enough. Another 23% are not sure. 

But then 51% of Americans believe the federal government is more concerned with making Wall Street firms profitable than making sure the U.S. financial system works well for all Americans. Only 22% say the government is more concerned with making the system work for all, but 26% more are not sure.

The number of adults who say the government puts Wall Street ahead of everyone else is unchanged from January, but the number who believe the government puts the interests of the citizens first is down nine points since then. Sentiments have shifted considerably since June of last year, when only 38% thought the government put Wall Street ahead of Main Street. 

In October 2008 when the bank bailout was first being considered by Congress, 63% of voters said Wall Street will benefit more than the average taxpayer. That figure jumped to 80% by July of the following year. 

(Want a free daily e-mail update? If it's in the news, it's in our polls). Rasmussen Reports updates are also available on Twitter or Facebook.

The survey of 1,000 Adults was conducted on May 28-29, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

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