A key point of contention in the Senate regulatory reform bill is how much flexibility the government should have when a systemically important firm falters.

Critics say the bill gives the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. too much flexibility, and that, in a crisis, the agency will be tempted to prop these firms up.

Just over half of respondents in an online poll, or 57%, agreed, saying said the agency should have no leeway in the way it treats unsecured creditors of big firms that fail. Instead, these resondents said, creditors  should treated the same way they would be in a bankruptcy

Supporters of language in the bill, including the Treasury Department and the FDIC, claim some flexibility is necessary to prevent a major failure from endangering the economy.

In fact, after reading our story on the controversy, Michael Krimminger, the FDIC's deputy to the chairman for policy, emailed the American Banker saying he wanted to set the record straight: "Nothing in the Senate bill would allow the FDIC to bail out a large financial firm — it simply provides for an orderly wind-down to avoid a destabilizing collapse," he wrote. "In fact, the bill specifically requires a liquidation of the firm where shareholders and creditors bear the losses."

Twenty four percent of respondents in our online poll support bill in its current form, saying the agency needs the flexibility to treat creditors differently in order to maximize the value of the company, and 19% said that, while unsecured creditors should mostly be treated the same, some leeway is necessary.

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