The financial meltdown may have brought simmering economic resentments to a boil and prompted a populist backlash, writes Nina Easton in Fortune. Public opinion indicators—polls, calls to Congress—show widespread fury at the bailout. Long-building anger over growing economic inequality may have combined with disgust at the current crisis and the behind-closed-doors style of addressing it, forming a general anti-elite sentiment.
Seeing Henry Paulson seemingly throwing money at Wall Street, Americans have been reluctant to come around to the idea that their economic fate is connected to that of the bailed-out fat cats, and calls for executive pay caps reflect broad unease with the plan. Newt Gingrich describes the popular perception as “big guys bailing out their friends.”