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The 'bailout fund' is no 'death panel'

There's a lot to chew on in the Washington Post/ABC News poll on financial reform. On the issue as a whole, Obama has a 17-point lead over Republicans. The narrowest support for a Democratic initiative, 43 to 41 percent, comes for federal regulation of derivatives.

If there's a big surprise, it's the level of support for "requiring large banks and other financial companies to put money into a fund that would cover the cost of taking over and breaking up any large financial company that fails and threatens the broader economy." There's majority support, 53 to 42 percent, for that item. And that comes after several months of battering from the Chamber of Commerce and Republican leaders who had characterized this as a "bailout fund."

For comparison, let's remember how much success Republicans had with the message that health care reform would bring about rationing that, at its worst, would empower the government to make decisions about whether elderly patients would live or die. At the height of the debate, an NBC poll found 45 percent of Americans believing that the so-called "death panel" was part of the bill to only 50 percent who didn't. But months of worries about a "bailout fund" have failed to bring down support for this bill, or bring up opposition to such a fund. That's a measure of what can happen when an issue does not as fully engage the opposition -- I count one rambling Sarah Palin post* on this topic -- and a measure, better than these occasional polls on whether people trust business more than government, of how much Americans still loathe Wall Street.

*Not to insult Palin, but I don't know how else to describe that post, which mentions Obama administration connections to Goldman Sachs then moves on and compares (without irony) the regulation of Wall Street to the passage of an ethics reform bill in Alaska.

By David Weigel  |  April 26, 2010; 11:51 AM ET
Categories:  Financial reform  
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