Americans Say Business Is Too Heavily Regulated: Poll

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Bankers who think the government should have a lighter touch when it comes to prescribing rules for their industry may have an ally in the American people.

Overall, 47% of Americans think there is too much government regulation of business, according to a poll released Monday by Gallup. Twenty-six percent of U.S. adults say there is too little regulation of business, while another 24% say the amount of regulation is just about right.

Americans have said there is too much regulation of business since 2006, according to Gallup, which has asked the question for more than a decade. The number hit 50% in 2011, before falling slightly this year.

"The collapse of Lehman Bros., the failure of the secondary mortgage market, and other business problems in 2008 and 2009 might have been expected to increase Americans' desire for more government control of business and industry," Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport wrote in a news release. "But that was not the case."

Not surprisingly, Americans' views on what the government's role in regulating business vary based in political affiliation. In general, 77% of Republicans think the government writes too many rules for business, compared with 25% of Democrats and 46% of independents.

The percentage of Americans who say there is too much regulation began to climb in 2009, around the time when Congress was debating what became the Dodd-Frank Act, Newport added. 

That law, which was passed in 2010, added roughly 400 new rules for financial firms. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has made replacing Dodd-Frank with "sensible" regulation a centerpiece of his plan to improve the housing market.

For their part, congressional Republicans say they would be more likely to chip away at the banking law rather than try to abrogate it completely even if their party recaptures the White House in November. 

"I think it will mostly be targeted at certain areas," Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who chairs the House consumer credit subcommittee, told American Banker in August at the Republican National Convention. "I think that's where we're going to have most success."

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