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What, Me Worry? Most Shrug Off Subprime Mess

Americans remain relatively unconcerned about the subprime mortgage lending situation, and they say President Bush is doing a better job, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

When asked to rank several elements of the economy and whether they had been negatively impacted by them, respondents chose rising gasoline prices, health care costs and the federal budget deficit as their top concerns.

Jobs going overseas, the decline in home values and changes in the stock market were also ranked as having a somewhat negative impact by comparison.

Meanwhile, immigration issues and subprime mortgages ranked at the bottom of the list.

In fact, only 18% of those polled said the mortgage lending situation had a very negative personal affect on them. Fifteen percent said it had a somewhat negative affect, and 62% said it had had no negative affect whatsoever. Five percent of those polled remained unsure about the effect the mortgage situation might have had on them.

Rising gasoline prices, however, were a major concern for 57% of respondents. Thirty-one percent said they had been somewhat negatively impacted by gas costs, and 12% said they had not been negatively affected.

And when it comes to making their mortgage payments, 66% of those polled who own homes were not worried at all, 19% were only a little worried, 5% were fairly worried and 10% very worried.

These figures are virtually unchanged from the July NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, and even show a slight decline in concerns about making mortgage payments when compared to a May 2001 Fannie Mae National Housing Survey.

Respondents also were more apt to blame mortgage lenders than homeowners for the subprime problems, 48% to 27% respectively. Twenty-two percent of respondents said lenders and homeowners are equally to blame.

As for whether the federal government should ensure that people’s homes are not foreclosed upon because they took out adjustable rate mortgages, 59% said intervening is not the government’s role. Thirty-five percent said the government should step in, and 6% were unsure.

President Bush’s 33% overall approval rating in the latest poll shows a continuing rise since his all-time low in June of 29%, which ticked up in July to 31%.

Respondents remained unchanged since July on the way Bush is handling the economy, with 38% approving. But respondents also showed a significant increase in their approval of the president’s handling of Iraq, rising to 30% from July’s wartime low of 22%.

Congress likewise held steady in its approval rating at 23%.

Read more poll results on MSNBC.com.