Obama or Romney: Who's better for your finances?

One economist says it's pretty simple: Richer folks will likely benefit more from Romney's policies, while lower-income Americans will benefit more from Obama's.

By MSNMoney partner Sep 20, 2012 9:03AM
US News logoBy Kimberly Palmer

When it comes to deciding which candidate is better for your financial life, the answer isn't entirely obvious. In fact, voters hold widely varying views on how the two candidates will likely influence the economy, often depending on their own income levels and financial situations.

Here's where Americans stand:

Voters believe presidents have a big impact on their money—to a degree.

"The economy is really on people's minds at this point, even more so than in past years just because it has been such a tough last couple years for Americans' finances," says Claes Bell, senior banking analyst at Bankrate.com, although he adds that "pocketbook issues" often play a major role in elections.

A Bankrate.com survey taken in June found that almost six in 10 Americans say their personal finance situation is either the most important factor or one of the most important factors in determining which candidate they'll vote for.

Still, Americans are skeptical that either candidate will actually be able to substantially improve their financial lives. Half of the survey respondents said that when it comes to affecting their own finances, it doesn't matter which president ends up getting elected. "It seems like people are thinking, 'We're stuck in the economic rut, and they doubt that specific policies will help us out,'" says Bell. Among those who thought that the president would impact their personal finances, they were equally divided on selecting the better candidate.

Americans are faced with two candidates who offer sharply different views on economic policy.

"The Romney crowd would say, 'If we have low taxes, and we get rid of regulation and reduce public spending, the economy will grow at a faster rate.' They're being guided by the (Paul) Ryan budget, (which includes) significant cuts in taxes and cutting back the size of the state," says resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute Desmond Lachman. Much of that is designed to stimulate business, he adds, "so you'd think it would be beneficial to people owning stocks, people in the upper-income brackets."

Lachman adds, though, that the Federal Reserve's policies under President Barack Obama have helped to buoy equity prices, and Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney would likely take a different approach. (Romney has said that he would replace Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke.)

Obama, meanwhile, has focused more on economic policies that affect the middle and lower classes, including health insurance coverage, student loan support, social services, and extending the payroll tax cut. "At the high-end of the income scale, he'd be raising taxes, whereas the Ryan budget cuts taxes across the board," says Lachman. Obama has also supported the extension of benefits for the unemployed as well as other social services, from food stamps to Medicaid.

Of course, presidents don't make policies unilaterally, and each candidate would have to work with Congress to pass legislation. For Obama, that could mean working again with a Republican-dominated Congress. "Tea party members are not prepared to compromise, so I'd expect you'll get more of the same in terms of economic performance," Lachman says.

In general, Lachman says, people in the upper-income brackets will likely benefit more from Romney's policies, while lower-income Americans will benefit more from Obama's.

Republicans and Democrats feel differently about their own financial situations and the financial health of the country.

"Partisanship seems to be having a pretty intense effect on how people view their personal finances," says Bell. A recent Bankrate.com survey found that a third of Republicans feel "more comfortable with their debt now versus one year ago," while just one-quarter of Democrats said the same. Possible reasons include that Republicans might fall into the higher-income bracket and have lower debt levels, or that Republicans tend to be more fiscally conservative in both their private lives and political beliefs, says Bell.

Bell believes respondents who support Obama also tend to feel more optimistic about the economy, and to "feel things are going better than they are," while Romney supporters tend to "feel things are going worse than they actually are." The intense emotions surrounding the election, he says, appear to be affecting perceptions of the economy.

Age and income level have an influence on how voters perceive the election.

Age also has an impact on voters' views. Bankrate.com found that among voters under age 30, 10 percent said their personal financial situation will be better under Romney, while 29 percent said it will be better under Obama.

A recent Pew report found that 63 percent of Americans say Republicans "favor the rich over the middle class and poor," and seven in 10 "believe the policies of a President Mitt Romney would be good for wealthy people." Meanwhile, six in 10 respondents said Obama's policies will help the poor, and half said they will help the middle class. Pew concludes that among middle-class adults, "neither candidate has sealed the deal."

As both candidates make their case to voters in the final months leading up to the election, each will try to do just that.

More from US News & World Report

Sep 20, 2012 9:52PM

It is simple!  If you are willing to work for a living. Romney is your man!  If you are willing to lay around and do nothing, with your

hand out, Obama will give you my money!  Redistibution?

Sep 20, 2012 9:47PM

Just look at this one article then talk reality instead of BS




O MY LOOKS LIKE the Obama bashers are wrong !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please atleast be a little informed. I am reminded about a great quote.


If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but if you really make them think, they'll hate you."-- Don Marquis

Romney just want you to think your thinking.

Sep 20, 2012 9:31PM
I've worked as an employee and an employer and Obama knows nothing about what it takes to create jobs. If he is reelected it will be a tough four years, because the people that create jobs will not try to expand their businesses. There's no need to try to do better if you are going to be punished with more taxes! I'm voting for Romney, can't be any worse than last four years.
Sep 20, 2012 9:20PM
It does not matter who the President is. We have printed so much money. Nancy Pelosi said in an interview a while ago when asked about climbing debt, "We'll just inflate the economy". Really she said that. Our goose is cooked. Watch the train wreck in slow motion. It's coming. We'll all just {us that work for a living} work  a little harder, there are 47% of the nation counting on us.
Sep 20, 2012 8:55PM

I'd like to get these whiny, needy RICH people back to work... they've had it too easy, with super low capital gains tax, tax loopholes and deregulation.  It makes them lazy.  The rich worked harder when taxes were higher; they had to, in order to maintain their high standard of living!  Let's get their tax rates back up to the levels of the 1950's and watch the economy prosper. 

Sep 20, 2012 8:52PM

Solutions and other issues that haven't been addressed nor solved are...


Unions - we need to eliminate unions and minimum wage. There are parts of the United States that have a lower cost of living in which they could afford to work for less if they want. As you can tell almost everything we own is made elsewhere. If we continue to have unions and raise minimum wage we will no longer be able to afford to make anything in the USA, if we even do now-a-days (lol). The public will decide what they will work for or if not, business owners will continue to outsource and American cars and other products made here will continue to be inferior to other cars and products made in other countries due to the fact that parts and quality of materials will need to compensate for people's wages and the demand for the U.S. worker's speed in order to compete with other countries will force them to make more careless mistakes when considering that they will have to manufacture twice or triple as much in order to compete and make a profit.

Teachers' assesment and salaries need to be tied to students' performances.

Corporate taxes need to be reduced or else all businesses will eventually get smart enough to move there business elsewhere.

Gov't needs to shrink to save taxpayer dollars.

Incentives / benefits to illegal immigrants  from gov't need to stop.

Companies cannot be bailed out. They need to be held accountable for their own wrong doings.

Foreclosures cannot be held up.

War needs to be avoided by all means because that is making us broke. Who knows...probably provoking us and making us go to war which makes us broke is the enemy's goal because if we go broke we lose our spot in being the most powerful country. China will end up owning us due to us borrowing from them and our defecit increasing due to war, outsourcing, giving so much foreign aid, being in everyone's business, trying to police the world and providing illegals with benefits / funds that they themselves had never contributed to. Sometimes even taken from here and sent to their country so they could benefit from it over there, which doesn't make sense for the U.S..

We need to stop giving people more money (from taxpayers) for having more kids. As dumb as an individual could be to do this for money, it does contribute to having others have more kids. As a matter of fact, they should be paying more taxes for having more kids. That will reduce the poverty level, crime and taxpayer dollars.

If the rich do not mind paying more taxes to reduce the deficit, then let it be. Charge them more taxes, but just remember...that is not the solve all solution. The solution is to reduce spending just like a logical individual or family on a tight budget will do.

We need to stop trying to be the police of the world because that is making us hated...and broke when we have to go to war.

We need to reduce foreign aid around the world, mind our business and take care of our own. We cannot save everyone. We must first save ourselves, then branch out to save others.

We need to drastically reduce the amount of campaign money a single individual could contribute to the president or the candidate voting against him or else that individual will own that president.


If you do not agree with any comments I had made, then do not complain about your high property taxes, your 25% - 30% or even more that gets taken out ofyour check every week or every 2 weeks, or even the high cost in food, gas or your lower than usual salaries. The illegals increase your taxes in order to support their needs as well as the war, the bailouts, the irresponsible homeowners and other freeloaders.  

Sep 20, 2012 8:48PM

It really doesn't matter who gets elected as the POTUS this year cause nothing will change at least for over a decade, do the research the only thing that will change is under Obama = more taxes for the Rich and Less tax for the poor and he has good foreign policies. Under Mitt Romney = tax cut, which never stimulates the economy, he has bad foreign policies which can't be good for our country and he's a business man not statesman. and his record as Mass. State Gov. speaks for it's self. The only thing i would like to add is everyone needs to really pay attention to the debates. No matter who the President is we will not recover in just 4 years or even 8 years it will be around 2020-2024 before we can even get clear of the 16 trillion dollar debt. there is never a quick way to get out of a bind. plus the 12 million jobs Romney is talking about is pointless by the time he fills them there will be more people unemployed than there is now. 23 million unemployed 2012 by the end of 2016 there will be close to 40 million do the math you'll understand college graduates, plus highschool graduates, plus the current unemployed

Sep 20, 2012 8:44PM

The Republicans were the ones who put us into this mess in the first place!

Sep 20, 2012 8:32PM
So tell us MSN, exactly HOW do poorer folks
benefit with NO jobs under Obama?
Sep 20, 2012 8:25PM
How can anyone in their right mind make a statement that the low income will be better with Obama. That has not happened in his first four years so what makes them think things will be any different the next four years. Does it sound as though the poorer and middle class are better when the rolls of the people on food stamps and welfare have doubled under Obama. There are twce as many people now at the poverty level under Obama. The  number of people in the misery index has almost doubled. I don't think any of these people were the richer, I think they were the poor and middle class before Obama. Obama's mission to raise fuel costs to $9 a gallon will hurt who? Obama's mission to raise electric rates three times what thy are today will hurt who? Not the rich. These things will not happen under Romney and under Romney, this country will most likely go for indepedence from the oil of the Arab countries.
Sep 20, 2012 8:04PM

Pros & Cons on Obama...

Pros - He seems to want to avoid war. He has done a descent job getting our enemies. He has done a good job protecting our country from terrorists. Seems to be on the right track with Obamacare, but still needs to perfect it. Seems to be learning and making adjustments to improve the economy eventhough we do not need a person to hold such a high position in our country to learn on the job or by his own mistakes.


Cons - Bailouts! Defecit is super high! He extended unemployment benefits (this doesn't make much sense, the longer you extend this, the longer it will take people to look for work. Statistic shows that people do not seem to find work until it is close to running out. It is a proven fact.).

He kept homeowners that were foreclosing in their homes for longer than usual, which prolong the recession. It just made it a business move for people to foreclose on their property. Why wouldn't someone under water or at a even fair house value not pay their mortgage if they could stay in their house for 2 years or more for free, saving in most cases $24,000 - $42,000 a year, and while some of those same homeowners even work? That is a lot of money they could be saving, plus you don't have to feel too bad for them, most people in this situation hardly put a down payment or refinanced to cash out close to market value and then saved approx. $48k - $84K in those 2 years living in there for free. Not paying property taxes, while you property tax paying homeowners take more of a hit on your property taxes.

He has gotten more people depended on food stamps and other gov't / taxpayer benefits than any other president that I have lived through. Under his watch social services gives U.S. citizens a harder time to get benefits that they themselves had paid into, then illegal immigrants that never contributed a dime to this country. Why is it illegal for a person to help a person that commits a crime, but it isn't illegal for social services to help (with our own taxpayer money) a person that illegally crossed the border? This doesn't make much sense. Why do we give so much incentives in terms of gov't assistance, financial aid to college, food stamps, insurance, WIC and so forth to illegals and others that never contributed a dime to this fund that the gov't takes this money from? Anyone that wants to put their hand in the pot of funds should have contributed to this pot of funds at some point in their lives.



Sep 20, 2012 8:00PM
It's another NBC lie.  ^ million plus middle class people are about to get hit with the Obamacare Penalty/tax.  A blatant NBC lie added to the thousand others.  Obama is about to wipe out the middle class.
Sep 20, 2012 7:48PM


The reason we pay more for everything these days is our government keeps printing money that we don't have which deflates the value of our currency. We can still produce products at a reasonable cost, but the out of control spending of the US government and a decline in the dollar means it won't purchase as much, therefore bringing the cost up. The people we hired to govern us have failed and should be replaced. I believe there is a lot of incompetency within our government and a serious amount of fraud waste and abuse. As a police officer most of these individuals running our country do not have the moral character to even qualify for my job. They would never get past the truth verification process. Bottom line the government has gotten too big to function efficiently. If you think about it, government seems to regulate almost everything we do. This is bad news for a freedom loving people. People need a leader that will unite us as a people instead divide us. As I see things now, Obama has divided this nation against one another. There is republican against democrat, class warfare, men against women, black against white, homosexuals against heterosexuals, and legal citizens against illegal citizens. Where does it all end? I am retired military and a police officer. I know I am going to be fine in my golden years. With three children, three grandchildren, and two more on the way, I am extremely concerned at the debt our generation is passing on to them for repayment. I truly believe that the republican ticket will at least get us going in the right direction. It will take some time to undo the damage that has already been done.

Sep 20, 2012 7:47PM

If you want to go back to work and make an earnest living, vote for Romney, but if you want America to continue on the path of unfair policy making and by someone who has cause more debt that all the Presidents we had before Obama, then vote for him. The bottomline is that Obama has had four years to create a better economic system than the failure than he inherited. He has done nothing but cause us to be in debt. He has cause this burden to be on the backs of our children and grandchildren. He has borrowed money from every Department and has no idea on how to repay these Departments especially all the money that you, me and everyone else place with the IRS for Social Security when we retire. This means that he has caused several Departments to have a shortfall on their fiscal payroll.

On the other hand Romney is a business man and knows how important is to balance books. He understands how it is to be a business owner and what a business owner has to pay out in the way of employment taxes for all who worked for him. You see people, people who own businesses usually will see that their hired help is paid first, the payroll taxes are taken care of and all the other taxes, whether it is county taxes, corporate taxes, city taxes, state and federal for the business part. Also he knows that there is health and liability insurances to be paid among other business entities. Most of you do not know that business people have to account for every thing that is within a business including inventory. Romney knows this, but Obama does not. If President Obama by himself would take inventory of every Department this nation has, then he would overhelmed and would be beside himself as to where all the spending he has created went to. This is why we have a Department that does this for the nation. It is called The Office of Procurement. I guarantee you President Obama didn't know that. However all business has some form of this type of office, they just called accounts receivable and payable,

President Obama has already showed this nation that he cannot handle a business. If he was in a real corporate buisness today, he would already had his pink slip. Why would you want to re-elect someone who would had got a pink slip for a bad job?

One last thing to consider about businesses is there is a misconception that people who own their own business makes a big check. This is not true. Most people who have business, ususally don;t see any payroll for themselves for three to five years from the time the business was started. If they do manage to have a payroll for themselves during this time, then it is so little that they have to depend on other sources in which to maintain their livelihood. Majority of the people in the United States believes that people who own businesses make tons of money for themselves. This is hogwash. So Romney was right about his income tax statements. If he made some money after his fifth year in business so be it. It was his business. I can think of other business owners like Donald Trump and Ted Turner among others who did the exact same thing. The only differnce is Romney walked away from his business for something else.

Sep 20, 2012 7:40PM


Romney is not about POWER  & GREED.  He has an analytical mind & is a problem solver.   He cares about SUCCESS. He cares about CHARITY.  He is a giver at heart. Giver of his own earned money. Obama's giving is of other peoples money. It feeds his won ego.... that he can be a good guy with other peoples money. The difference is HUMBLE vs. EGO.



Sep 20, 2012 7:39PM
Shame on Kimberly Palmer, author of this ridiculous piece of 'journalism', for putting yet another 'spin' on an article to enhance her own personal opinions rather than reporting well-researched, UNBIASED, and truthful accounting of the facts.  Our First Amendment restricts the government's interference with the press but unfortunately, it does not even imply any responsibility on the part of the so-called free press to serve the public's best interest or to maintain any degree of accuracy.  That is so obvious in this article.  What a shame for the fall and demise of what used to be called true 'journalism'.
Sep 20, 2012 7:37PM

Good grief...take a breath and get a clue. Why do you guys seem to have to totally vilify the opposition? Neither man is the embodiment of evil who eats babies.

I prefer Obama because I believe maintaining the current system of over-protecting the rich is bad because it causes excess disparity. Inflation grows because rich get richer just moving paper around and not making something and not paying enough taxes that would help the lower end sorta catch up through more opportunities. If the CEO is making millions, that product costs more to pay him.

The working poor element gets bigger because with lots of folks for every job, bosses don't need to offer a living wage or decent raises or benifits. Gotta reduce the disparity without harming the concepts of hard work, we just plain have to reduce the mega rich growth and increase the 'everybody else' growth to have a healthy society.

BTW, you DO realize that most of that reducing the size of government involves eliminating government jobs don't you? Those guys lose their government jobs and head into the private sector where there are no jobs. I believe that more jobs is the main answer to everything, don't reduce government if that reduction hurts the economy, right now the rich are paying the lowest percentage since the 1950s...raise their taxes....not a lot, don't want to make those poor rich folks cry, but cut into a little of those piles of disposable income. If nothing else, maybe they won't have 100s of millions to waste buying influence to insure that they don't have to pay taxes.

Sep 20, 2012 7:36PM

sorry for the typos,did the comment in hurry was heading out:


I'm looking at a lot of the comments and a lot of talk about who's better.Either is good for me, my job is stable and my wages are up a little bit.Even in this economy they gave us an increase and haven't laid off anyone, actually hired a few hundred people.Then there is my lifestyle ,cars ,home,going out and bills. They are about the same mostly,except bought more recent car and insurance through job increase but only $2.25 per pay period.Really no steep increase,so i step back and ask myself (Am i really way worse at all or about same as before obama? ) I'm the same,still can save ,take vacations here and there and provide for my daughter. Like i stated before you answer have to ask if your life really is way worse or barely change? So for me either is fine,i won't see much change in my living.

Also a lot of change has happen in world,restaurants offer better deals to help save money and new home buyers get a credit to help,i know gasoline has went up.However now in my state new jersey there are multiple choices on natural gas and electric where before one one provider at one rate.now my family has switch the one (eletric) and is cheaper by dollars a month. Plus there were jobs created,not sure of the exact number but google says 2010 1.3 million jobs were created. so i just think its not all bad,i look at both. Not saying there aren't any downs,but also ups as well.


Sep 20, 2012 7:35PM
To working Republican and anyone else who does not like my opinion. I am glad you have a job. Just don't assume that other people don't. Retired with 45 years of work History. Damn good insurance and a damn good retirement package. I am not worried about my future but it does not stop me from caring about other people.
Sep 20, 2012 7:31PM

i looking at a lot of comments and lot of talk about who better.Either good for me, my jobs is stable and my wages are up little bit.Even in this economy there gave increase and havent laid off,actually hired few hundred people. Then there my lifestyle ,cars ,home,going out and bills. They are the same mostly,except bought more recent car and insurance through job increase but only $2.25 per pay period.Really no steep increase,so i step back and ask myself (Am i really way worse at all or about same as before obama? ) I the same,still can save ,take vacations here and there and provide for my daughter. Like i stated before you have ask if your life really is way worse or barely change? So for either is fine,i wont see much change in my living.


Also a lot of change has happen in world,restaurants offer better deals to help save money and new home buyers get a credit to help,i know gas has went up.However now in my state new jersey there are multiple choices on natural gas and electric where before one one provider at one rate.now my family has switch the one (eletric) and is cheaper by dollars a month. Plus there were jobs created,not sure of the exact number but google says 2010 1.3 million jobs were created. so i just think its not all bad,i look at both. Not saying there aren't any downs,but also ups as well. 



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