The Houston Chronicle

Anti-government mood stifles regulatory push
The Houston Chronicle

Public distrust of government is limiting the push for tighter federal regulations even in the wake of regulatory lapses that contributed to the financial meltdown, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and April’s deadly coal mine explosion.

These disasters would seem likely candidates for nudging the public’s appetite for regulation, which typically ebbs and flows, toward the pro-oversight side.

The reason, Democrats and government analysts say, is that the public’s desire for better regulations to protect consumers is trumped by a stronger dislike of the only power that can reasonably conduct such efforts: the government.

At best, Americans seem conflicted about government regulation. In a new Bloomberg poll, a plurality of respondents said they have become more supportive of tougher regulations in recent months. Still, barely more than a third said there should be more government oversight in general, while the rest wanted less regulation or about the current amount.

Moreover, most major regulations must come from Congress, which gets an unfavorable rating from nearly three out of every four Americans, according to a recent Associated Press-GfK poll.