-- More than half of Americans — 56% — say their financial situation has been harmed by the financial meltdown in the past two weeks with 20% saying it has been harmed a great deal, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll.
Their longer term outlook is even more gloomy, with 69% saying their finances will be harmed in the long run and 28% saying they'll be harmed a great deal.
The Tuesday night poll of 1,021 adults came the day after the House of Representatives failed to pass a $700 billion bailout to shore up the U.S. financial system, leading to a $1.2 trillion loss in stock values on Wall Street before the market recovered somewhat on Tuesday.
The Senate countered by scheduling a vote tonight on another bailout package after agreeing to a higher limit for insured bank deposits and added tax breaks.
Despite the huge loss on Wall Street following the first failure of the bailout package, only 20% in the poll said Congress should pass a bill like the one they defeated while 57% said Congress should start over but do something. Fourteen percent said Congress should do nothing.
American consumers appear to be filled with negative emotions. Over half, 53%, say they're angry and 40% say they're afraid, the poll indicated.
After the plunge in stock values Monday, financial analysts predicted that Congress would be convinced more than ever that something needed to be done. Jitters declined Tuesday when the market recovered more than half of the value it had lost Monday, but concerns continued to rise that the credit crunch would spill into more parts of the economy as businesses and state and local governments faced increasing difficulty in borrowing money needed to keep the economy flowing.
If Congress doesn't do anything, 34% of those polled said the nation will go into a severe, prolonged recession; 22% said a depression would follow. Thirty-one percent said the nation will have major problems but not a recession.
Presidential candidates Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have called for quick action to stabilize the nation's financial system. Of those polled, 51% approved of Democrat Obama's performance in the situation while 42% approved of McCain's. Both candidates planned to be present for the Senate vote, the Associated Press reported.
Democratic leaders in Congress also got slightly higher approval ratings than Republican leaders.
Only 31% of those polled approved of President Bush's performance; 47% disapproved of his performance. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.