May 19, 2024

New York Times/CBS Poll: Unity on Issues Falls to Politics

That disconnect could explain why Democrats and Mr. Obama are still struggling to translate public support into tangible political backing for their initiatives. Americans did not give Mr. Obama high marks for his handling of those issues — even though more than two-thirds of Americans over all, including a majority of Republicans, disapprove of the way Republicans in Congress are handling their job.

“I’m for stricter gun laws, but the reason I favor the Republicans over the Democrats and the liberals on gun laws is because they have always been against the Second Amendment and the right to own guns,” said Jim Hensley, 69, a Republican from Grandville, Mich., in an interview after the poll was conducted.

“Yes, I believe the Republicans should have voted for background checks, and they should not legalize automatic weapons,” Mr. Hensley added. “I was against the repeal of the ban on automatic weapons, and I don’t support the N.R.A. But it’s like marriage. You stick with your wife no matter what, and you don’t just ditch your political party on one issue.”

Two weeks after a bipartisan measure that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers was defeated in the Senate, nearly 9 in 10 of those surveyed said they favored background checks on all gun buyers, and 6 in 10 said they were disappointed or angry with the vote.

On immigration, 83 percent of respondents said they supported a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants already in the country illegally, as long as certain requirements — like paying fines and back taxes, passing a criminal-background check and learning English — were met. And nearly 6 in 10 favored a combination of cutting spending and raising taxes to reduce the federal deficit, echoing the plans being pushed by Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats.

Yet Americans are closely divided on whether Republicans would handle these issues better than Mr. Obama, the poll showed.

Both stricter gun laws and an immigration overhaul received strong support from Republicans, with 86 percent favoring background checks on all potential gun buyers, and 83 percent favoring a path to citizenship if certain requirements were met. Last month, a bipartisan group of eight senators proposed such immigration legislation, which would offer a 13-year path to citizenship, as well as require certain border security measures.

Only 41 percent of those surveyed approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of gun policy, and 52 percent disapproved. Americans were about evenly divided on whom to trust to make decisions about gun laws and an immigration overhaul — Republicans in Congress or the president.

Rick Buckman, 52, a Republican and an electrical engineer from Dallas, Pa., said that while he supported stricter gun legislation, he did not necessarily approve of the president’s approach. “I was really ticked off that the law didn’t pass,” Mr. Buckman said. “But I thought it was wrong of President Obama to get in front of the public and use people who had been damaged by gun violence as props.”

Mike Brady, 68, a Democrat and semiretired lawyer in Farmington Hills, Mich., viewed the Republicans’ opposition to the gun control legislation as self-serving. “Well, Obama’s trying his best to do the obvious right thing for the country, but he’s been roadblocked extensively for political reasons by people who even among themselves would take a different position,” he said. “So it’s cynical, unprincipled obstructionism.”

The poll also showed that 57 percent disapproved of Mr. Obama’s handling of the federal budget deficit. Thirty-six percent of respondents supported reducing the deficit by cutting federal spending.

Though churning support for his agenda remains a problem for the president, according to the poll, Congress is struggling with overcoming its own unfavorable image. Three-quarters of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job, the poll found, and nearly 9 in 10 said most members of Congress were more concerned with serving special interest groups than helping the people they represent.

“It’s like the gladiator sports, where the emperor keeps the people entertained, even though we’re starving,” said Roberta Hughes, 61, of Elizabeth City, N.C. “But real people are losing out in real ways when they enact the drama.”

The nationwide poll of 965 adults was conducted from April 24 to April 28 on land lines and cellular phones, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Nearly 6 in 10 Americans said they would vote for a candidate who did not share their views of immigration. Only 4 in 10 said they would vote for a candidate who did not share their views on gun control — seemingly making immigration a less controversial issue at the voting booth, for now, than gun legislation.

“Stricter gun laws might help with some of the out of control people who randomly go around shooting others or killing themselves,” said Debby Warnock, 44, an independent from Pueblo West, Colo. “I do favor background checks, though some of the people who have killed others had clean backgrounds.”

She added: “I personally don’t care whether Republicans or Democrats make the decisions as long as it’s in the best interest of our country.”

Megan Thee-Brenan, Dalia Sussman and Marina Stefan contributed reporting.

Article source:

DealBook: HSBC Reveals Problems With Internal Controls

We will acknowledge and apologize for our past mistakes, Stuart Gulliver, chief of HSBC, wrote to employees in a memo.Jerome Favre/Bloomberg News“We will acknowledge and apologize for our past mistakes,” Stuart Gulliver, chief of HSBC, wrote to employees in a memo.

3:53 p.m. | Updated

LONDON — HSBC, the largest financial institution in Europe, has become the latest British bank to reveal major internal-control problems, saying that senior officials would apologize to U.S. lawmakers next week for not cracking down soon enough on money-laundering activities in America.

The money laundering, which a U.S. Senate subcommittee indicates was linked to terrorism and drug deals, could result in HSBC’s paying fines of up to $1 billion, according to analysts.

“Our anti-money laundering controls should have been stronger and more effective, and we failed to spot and deal with unacceptable behavior,” Stuart T. Gulliver, the chief executive of HSBC, wrote in a memo that became widely circulated after it was released to employees late Wednesday.

HSBC said Thursday that it would have no further comment before a hearing Tuesday in Washington.

The admission by HSBC, long seen as one of the more conservatively run and trustworthy of the financial giants based in London, could not come at a more awkward time for the bank. It is under new management since the period when the money laundering occurred, from 2004 to 2010, and it has shifted corporate focus to fast growing markets in Asia, which accounted for the bulk of its $16.8 billion in profit last year.

HSBC can distance itself from the money-laundering episode, by chalking it up to a previous management’s lapses. But the bank, along with more than a dozen financial institutions, also faces scrutiny by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic for any role the companies might have played in an the interest-rate manipulation scandal that has already embroiled one of HSBC’s main competitors, Barclays.

One big HSBC investor, who was not authorized to speak publicly, said that while it was a serious lapse not to have caught customer money laundering sooner, it did not necessarily indicate a deeper ethical problem within the bank. But the investor plans to closely follow developments to see what role — if any — the bank played in trying to manipulate key interest rates, including the London interbank offered rate, or Libor. If any issues arise, it could lead to more political pressure and damaging lawsuits, especially in London.

“We do not think there is a culture of money laundering at HSBC,” this person said. “Management overlooked it but will fix it. But Libor is different.”

Adding another political wrinkle: HSBC’s former chairman, Stephen Green, who was in office from 2006 to 2010 when many of the money-laundering detection problems occurred, is currently the trade minister in British prime minister David Cameron’s government. Mr. Green’s office did not reply to a request for comment on Thursday.

Shares of HSBC fell more than 2 percent Thursday in London.

British politicians and regulators are in the middle of a deep inquiry into banking practices of Barclays in the Libor scandal, for which the company has already agreed to pay fines in Britain and the United States of $450 million. A broader investigation into the conduct and practices of all banks operating in Britain is likely to follow, and regulators in the U.S. are conducting their own broader sweep.

In the case of the money laundering, the U.S. authorities have been examining HSBC for several years. On Tuesday, officials from the bank are set to testify in Washington before the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations. A subcommittee spokesman declined on Thursday to discuss the investigation, but the panel’s Web site describes the agenda: ‘‘a hearing on the money laundering and terrorist financing vulnerabilities created when a global bank uses its U.S. affiliate to provide U.S. dollars, U.S. dollar services, and access to the U.S. financial system to high risk affiliates, high risk correspondent banks, and high risk clients, using HSBC as a case study.’’

Mr. Gulliver, HSBC’s chief executive, is not expected to testify.

In his memo to employees, Mr. Gulliver said that since 2010, the bank has doubled its annual spending on regulatory compliance to $400 million, and now has about 3,500 people worldwide working on compliance — more than 1,000 of them in the United States. Over all, HSBC has about 295,000 employees.

Ian Gordon, a bank analyst at Investec in London, said Thursday that for HSBC, the money laundering “is an historic issue and I don’t think there will be any material repercussions in terms of civil liability.”

But the analyst is among those who note that HSBC’s bigger issue in the near future is the Libor investigation.

Unlike Barclays, HSBC’s profits come mainly from a mix of consumer and corporate businesses in Asia. Investment banking — making up as much as 70 percent of Barclays’s profit — accounts for less than a third of HSBC’s bottom line.

Mr. Gulliver is a recent appointee to the top spot at the bank, taking over in early 2011 and he has been vocal in shifting focus toward Asia — where he spends a large amount of his time — and away from slower growth developed markets.

And although he has an investment banking background, Mr. Gulliver is a low-key British national who has spent much of his career out of the public eye in Asia. As a consequence, he is less a controversial public figure when compared with Robert E. Diamond Jr., the recently ousted Barclays chief, whom the former British business minister, Peter Mandelson, once referred to as the ‘‘unacceptable face’’ of London banking.

In a recent report, analysts at Morgan Stanley estimated that the possible litigation exposure for the industry at large from the Libor fallout could be as much as $6 billion. That figure, while involving significant guesswork, was calculated on the basis of the potential profits a bank could have made by benefiting from a lower interest rate.

According to Morgan Stanley’s calculations, HSBC’s potential penalty if found culpable in the Libor investigation would be $348 million, which translates into a 1 percent earnings per share hit for 2013. The bank that would suffer the most was Royal Bank of Scotland, the Morgan Stanley analysts said, with possible legal exposure of $1 billion.

Neil Gough contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

Article source: