Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New Poll Shows American Public Supports Immediate TARP Repayment: Senate Vote Risks Public Ire

/PRNewswire/ -- A poll commissioned by National Media Inc. over the weekend demonstrates that an overwhelming majority of Americans believe that healthy banks should be allowed to repay TARP investments immediately. Of the one thousand respondents, 86 percent believe that banks should be allowed to repay the government immediately, if they are capable of doing so. Only 11 percent disagreed.

"Last night the U.S. Senate had the opportunity to allow banks who are financially sound to repay their TARP money, but failed to do so," said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist and commentator. "This is counter to the American public's desire and some of the better respected experts and elected officials on this issue."

Additionally, 75 percent of those polled believe taxpayers should expect a return on their investment when the funds are repaid. If informed of a hypothetical return -- 10 percent was used in the poll -- 65 percent of respondents are more likely to support the TARP program (Actual return will vary based on valuation of the warrants that Treasury hold in each TARP bank. Analysts have stated that returns could be as high as 15 percent.)

"The data shows that policymakers would have gotten more support for the TARP if it had been more clearly understood that the taxpayers would get a return on their investment," said Castellanos. "One of the most controversial acts of the financial crisis could have been politically more palatable to taxpayers if they'd understood the TARP was designed to produce a return on investment, not just throw taxpayers' money to the wind."

TARP Perception Survey Questions:

Q1. Last fall, in order to address the financial crisis, the government
invested hundreds of billions of dollars in banks and financial
institutions. This initiative is known by the acronym TARP. Do you
think the TARP investments were a good idea?
Yes - 31%
No - 54%
Don't know/ No Response - 16%

Q2. If a bank has the financial strength to pay the government back,
should they be allowed to do so immediately?
Yes - 86%
No - 11%
Don't know/ No Response - 4%

Q3. As healthy banks repay this money to the government, should taxpayers
expect a return on this investment?
Yes - 75%
No - 19%
Don't know/ No Response - 6%

Q4. If you knew that taxpayers were going to get a return on their TARP
investment, say 10%, would you be more or less supportive of the TARP
More - 64%
No -23%
Don't know/ No Response - 13%

National Media Inc. periodically commissions surveys in its ongoing research and analysis of the public policy issues of the day. This poll was conducted in coordination with GfK Custom Research, North America.

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