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Swing Voters Want Wall Street Reform

Blogging Our Great Divide
October 20, 2016

by Sarah Anderson

Nearly 70 percent of voters in four battleground states support breaking up the big banks and eliminating loopholes that favor Wall Street executives.

The word “Wall Street” was uttered only once in the final presidential debate — by Donald Trump when he complained about who he thought was funding TV ads against him.

And yet Wall Street is clearly on the minds of many voters. A recent poll of likely voters in four battleground states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and Ohio) showed strong support for taking on Wall Street.

The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners, asked voters about several specific policy proposals aimed at reining in Wall Street greed and recklessness.


On the “carried interest” loophole, for example, 68 percent of these swing state voters were supportive. Only 22 percent were opposed. This loophole allows Wall Street money managers to pay a lower tax rate than millions of teachers and firefighters by claiming much of their income as capital gains.

On another pay-related reform, the elimination of the “performance pay” loophole, support was just nearly as strong, with 67 percent in favor. This loophole allows the biggest banks and other publicly held corporations to deduct unlimited amounts from their federal income taxes for the expense of stock options and other so-called “performance pay.” It essentially means that the more corporations pay their CEO, the less they pay in taxes.

Support was even stronger for a 21st Century Glass-Steagall regulation that would reinstate the firewall between commercial and investment banking. This idea is also in both the Republican and Democratic Party platforms. The leadership of both parties should aim to take swift action on this issue, given the bipartisan support and the fact that nearly 70 percent of battleground voters favor it.

And finally, on breaking up the big banks so taxpayers aren’t on the hook for future bailouts, support was also strong, at 68 percent.

The main takeaway from this poll? Public frustration with Wall Street recklessness and greed is high and cuts across the political spectrum. Whoever wins this election should make turning this outrage into real change a high priority.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is a co-editor of

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