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Poll: Public Split on Limiting Executive Pay

While Congress may soon take up legislation that would limit executive pay at financial institutions, a new CBS News poll finds the public exactly split on the issue.

Although nearly half – 46 percent -- of Americans say they think executive pay on Wall Street should be limited by the federal government, just as many think the government should not be involved.

The country divides on broadly partisan and ideological lines, the poll finds, with Democrats and liberals believe the government should cap executive pay at financial institutions, while Republicans and conservatives do not. Independents and moderates are divided.

The poll also examines Americans' overall views of the economy. Eight in 10 think the national economy is in at least somewhat bad shape, including more than one in three who think the economy is very bad. Evaluations of the economy have not changed much over the last few months.

Slightly more than a third of all Americans say the national economy is getting better, but fewer see any improvement in their own local community or their own households. Just 18 percent of Americans see positive change in the economy in their own local communities, while just one in 10 think their own household's financial situation is improving.

Nationally Locally Own Household
Getting better 36% 18% 10%
Getting worse 25% 28% 30%
Staying same 37% 53% 59%

However, there is some other good news on Americans' personal finances. Many people are showing growing confidence in the job market -- even in the face of predictions of a "jobless" economic recovery. Now only 26 percent of Americans say they are very concerned that someone in their household will lose their job in the next 12 months - down 10 points from 36 percent last month – and the percentage who say they are not concerned has risen seven points to 45 percent.

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And the poll also finds that there may be at least one positive result of the current economic climate: twice as many Americans report they are reducing the debt they carry on their credit cards rather than increasing that debt. Twenty-eight percent of Americans with major credit cards now say they have less debt on those cards than they did a year ago, and another 15 percent volunteer that they are carrying no debt at all. Fourteen percent say they have more debt than they did a year ago, and 43 percent say they have the same amount.

More CBS News Polls Released Today:

More Wary of Obama on Health Care
Obama Approval Rating Dips Slightly
Two-Thirds Confused by Health Reform
Obama's Ratings on Afghanistan Drop
PDF: The Complete Poll – Health Care
PDF: The Complete Poll - Economy

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,097 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone August 27-31, 2009. Phone numbers were dialed from random digit dial samples of both standard land-line and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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