Rasmussen Reports
September 22, 2008

Most Americans are closely following news reports on the Bush Administration’s federal bailout plan for the country’s troubled economy, but just 28% support what has been proposed so far.

Over one-third of voters (37%) oppose the $700-billion plan, and nearly as many (35%) are undecided, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey taken Sunday night. Details of the plan were made public on Saturday.

Investors, who account for 62% of the nation’s voters, are evenly divided on their views of the plan: 36% favor it, and 36% oppose it. Twenty-eight percent (28%) are undecided.

Among non-investors, only 15% support the plan, while 41% oppose it. A plurality of non-investors (43%) are not sure yet what they think of it (full demographic crosstabs are available for Premium Members).

Adding weight to the large number of undecideds is the finding that 82% of Americans are following the bailout story, including 44% who say they are following it very closely. Sixty-five percent (65%) say they are at least somewhat confident they understand the reasons why the plan is being proposed.

The plan proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson would give the Treasury Department the taxpayer-funded power to buy up to $700 billion in mortgage debt from private firms. Treasury would have no restrictions on it other than semiannual reports to Congress. The administration argues that this is a systematic plan to deal with the country’s growing economic crisis, fueled by bad mortgages, as opposed to responding on a case-by-case basis. It was prompted by a series of high-profile bankruptcies and near-bankruptcies which sparked turmoil in the stock market.

Voters are fairly evenly divided on Paulson’s performance to date. Thirty-eight percent (38%) have a favorable opinion of the Treasury secretary, while 41% view him unfavorably.

Congress hopes to approve the bailout plan this week and then recess to begin political campaigning. Democrats are already talking about growing the plan to pump more money into the economy, while Republicans, many of whom are wary of a taxpayer-backed plan of this historic magnitude, are expected to quietly go along with it because of their fears of a further economic downturn.

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