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 2:21PM

Here is a little mind exercise for the Obama supporters here.

If the economy is getting better please tell me why QE3 is needed?

An open ended policy to buy 40 billion in mortgages a month and potentially increase that amount up to 100 billion until the unemployment drops below 7%. Estimates put the cost of QE3 conservatively up to 2 trillion dollars!

In 2008 at the beginning of the recession the feds monetary value was a little over 800 billion, QE 1 and 2 added 1.9 trillion to that amount increasing the balance sheet to 2.7 trillion dollars! Now the Fed and Obama are doubling down again and are going to add roughly 2 trillion dollars to the balance, which brings us to 4.7 trillion dollars.

That is an increase of 587% over the last 4 years! All this with supposedly no inflation? It is a band aid   on a fatal wound and the sheep are to stupid to realize it. They will continue to buy into the farce. This is a recipe for not only inflation, but for hyper inflation. When there is nearly 600% more money floating around eventually things are going to cost that much more. How long before everyone wakes up!

Sep 20, 2012 2:20PM







Sep 20, 2012 2:20PM

Sorry GOP, but it's not time for a Romney.  Obama needs 4 more years to inflict damage, then someone like Romney can step in to turn us all over to Wall Street.  Except for the unemployed (yes, children & retirees too) living in abject poverty, we'll all be made into wage slaves.  The EPA will be closed, so our resources, even those we own through the federal government, will be looted.  The economic disruption will require a national "manager", "majority Leader", "board chairman", etc. to run things until the emergency passes.  Somehow the emergency will never pass.

It's worked in scores of third world countries.  Why wouldn't it work here? 

Obama has definitely helped me and my family economically!  His job bill was stopped from the very beginning by the Repubs, now everyone wants to talk about no jobs, thank the Repubs for that and people on food stamps, etc.  People have to eat don't they, and live.  What about credit card holders, have you forgotten how credit card companies can no longer charge late fees thanks to Obama, as for health care we're paying for those who either can't afford it or won't purchase it anyway. This will never stop even if a miracle is performed to get Romney into the White House.  Find something else to gripe about!  Romney states over and over his dislike for the poor. He flip flops but tells speak his true feelings about the poor, his ignorance shows on every hand.  I don't want anyone in the White House who can't take the pressure without stumbling over his own words.
Sep 20, 2012 2:19PM
the benefits lower income folks will receive from Obama will be very temporary. When high income folks make more money the lower income folks will as well .
Sep 20, 2012 2:19PM
What a silly comparison in my books. Obama has ALREADY shown what a spendthrift he is - OVER 1 trillion dollars in spending already and WHO do you suppose is going to pay for it - THE NEXT PRESIDENT WHO GOES INTO THIS OFFICE since SOMEONE is going to have to pay all this money back to the Chinese. Also, the way I see it, what has Obama shown in the way of IDEAS to get the economy going ? NOTHING that I can see. WHERE are ALL the ideas other than starting up a WAR with someone like the ediot Bush and then Obama who kept it going, so he can get americans WORKING THAT WAY instead of at home in the safety of this countries military instead - I always hate to see those poor soldiers who have lost their lives in a country that is NOT part of the UNITED STATES because the PRESIDENTS could not come up with a better way to create work for americans. Here is an IDEA OBAMA, how about you all build a huge pipeline like the oil and gas lines and maybe even along side them to save money for digging up the properties and pipe any and all OVERFLOW water from states that experience flooding to places that have LIMITED or NO water each and every year like Las Vegas. Look how low the level at the Hoover Dam is these days. That idea is SAFE compared to starting a war in another country and paying all those billions to rebuild them after or is that called "outsourcing" work to? AND, it will create a lot of work for a couple of years anyway AND help a lot of industries out by buying up their goods.  
Sep 20, 2012 2:19PM
An economy which creates wealth offers the potential for everyones standard of living to rise; but redistributing wealth only causes everyone but the government to become poor.  Then, when there are no more producers, only government dependents and politcal elitist bureaucrats, we go bankrupt like every other socialist nation in history.  Witness the condition of the present European welfare state.  "The only problem with socialism is that eventually, you run out of other peoples money to spend!"  Margaret Thatcher
Sep 20, 2012 2:18PM

america is in debt.  the president has no clue of where he took this country to.  at his most recent tv appearance, said, he believed that our problem is temporary. Temporary?  they are operating this country with borrowed money at 4BILLIONS $$$$ A DAY.  we are 16 trillions in debts and counting and in his mind, it is a short term problem?  he is so out of touch and you guys are going to re-elect him?

Sep 20, 2012 2:17PM
I think this article basically has it right.  

There are two points they don't make.  

First, large deficit reduction pulls government spending from the economy and has an anti-stimulus effect.  So Romney's plan would at least in that respect make the economy worse.

Second, no country has ever been successful with rising poverty shrinking middle class and rising wealth inequality.  The Romney policies would clearly make this worse.  Therefore, he'd be worse if you are looking at the long term and worrying about your grandchildren.

Sep 20, 2012 2:17PM
Sep 20, 2012 2:17PM
We are a "working" family who understands that "fair share" means you get paid for what you do, and if  you do nothing.....you don't get paid.  Now, THAT is "fair".  Obama does not seem to understand this concept....I think because he has apparently been a free loader all of his life!  Someone paid for his college!  Who knows who?  He won't reveal any of this.  (MR. TRANSPARENCY, HIMSELF!!!)   He is certainly glutting himself on the backs of the American Taxpayers right now!  What is not "fair" is when people who work for a living have to give some of their hard earned income to people who do not.  And what is really not "fair" is when the non working entitlement loving person gets more food money than the hard working person can afford for his/her own family!!!  I have seen this personally.  A family I know of with 5 very small children gets $1200.00 a month for food!  We had 6 children and I have never spent anywhere near that amount for food!!!   I know and understand that there are many people who are justified in recieving assistance, but the majority people on welfare/foodstamps who have learned how to "get by" on someone elses money and they take terrible advantage of it.  No integrity!  None whatsoever!  Just selfish abuse of a system that should be in place for real need.  If you really NEED the assistance, and you are doing all you can do to help yourself and care for your family......then I am glad to help.  But if you are just a free loader.....how do you sleep at night?   
Sep 20, 2012 2:16PM
it is a real simple answer, obama is in over his head so far and has no clue what to do. at this point in time basically anyone else is a better option.  dont believe me?  try a simple test. just think of both people applying for a job at a business and you had to choose between the 2. one has run a business, handled his money as well as others and has ended up making money for himself as well as most of the companies he has made decsiions for.  the other has never had to handle money of his own or others to provide income, has never made good posative decissions or worked for a living and had no experience in the job he was applying for.   forget their names or color or religion  just look at what is on paper.  make the responsible choice between the ones given   and you will always come up with romney
Sep 20, 2012 2:14PM
Obama has done a lot of good things during his presidency,  But the whole problem that people don't get is that all of the good things he has done involves spending tax-payer money.

We've progressed into a new era, where people will vote for the candidate that gives them money, personally.  Obama is buying our votes with tax-payer money.  The problem is half of tax-payers do not want Obama to use their money to fund his programs.  So half of the tax-payers don't want Obama to win, while the other half want him to win because he is providing them with free money...

6 Trillion dollars in 4 years is too much.  It is enough money to have employed 30 million Americans on a 50k salary for 4 years (do the math).  Where are those jobs?

This is an unsustainable spending course, which will eventually lead us to Greece, where recently welfare programs were cut and taxes raised to ridiculous levels.  Of course voting for Romney is the harder choice, but it is the right course.

Sad thing is half of Americans won't vote for Romney because they don't really care.  As long as they are taken care of right now and here, they don't care about the future.
Sep 20, 2012 2:14PM
The same people who so adamantly declare the country is going to hell in a hand basket if Obama is re-elected are the exact same people who actually DID vote for Bush a second term.. which in case you've forgotten PUT US WHERE WE ARE NOW.  His 2000 Presidency, no one's fault. Who could have seen the worst POTUS in history coming, right?  But after 4 years of it.. we kinda had a clue. I'm not too big of an Obama fan. I'd have voted for Ron Paul, but I sure as hell am not ready for another four years of GOP/Tea Party-esque economics. Obama seems to have left his spine at the 2008 Democratic National Convention but a GOP Congress who puts intentionally stone-walling everything the President proposes in an admitted attempt to limit him to only 1 term + the housing crisis + 8 years of Bush is how we are where we are. People have to be real.  Oh, and gun control is less today than it was 4 years ago. He's the most "in the middle" President we've had in 50 years.  
Sep 20, 2012 2:14PM
it is just a lie to say lower income people will benefit more from Obama.  More jobs, more liquidity in the markets benefits everyone.  With Obama all you get are more handouts that really only benefit the government by giving them more control over you. They are even running commercials for food stamps now!!!   With Romney you have a better chance to keep your independence.  Period.  Not that Romney is the ideal Republican either...
Sep 20, 2012 2:14PM

FACT: Roger Ailes is president of Fox News Channel, chairman of the Fox
Television Stations Group. Ailes was a media consultant for Republican
presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush.

JOBS -- Under Obama, 4.5 Million private sector jobs have been
created in just the past 3 years - this after Bush losing 750K per month at the
end of his term. Labor Force Statistics from the Current
Population Survey (Source: BLS Rpt. LNU02000000)

"LESS PEOPLE WORKING NOW THAN 2009" - These job losses occurred during Obama's
first year. It took time to turn things around after Bush's 750K jobs lost per
month. If you read the graph at bottom you can clearly see that under Obama job
losses were turned around.

DEBT - - per Congressional Budget
Office -- BUSH LEFT Obama $1.2 Trillion DEFICIT, and 3 Trillion in DEBT
projected into Obama's term. Add to this the worst economic crisis in 80
years. GOP 2006 Senate, 49/49/2. Who's to blame for our

STOCK MARKET- Under Bush, DOW closed at around 8000. Under
Obama, we're now at 13000! Obama's policies have benefited "ALL our retirements
and 401K" with stock market recovery!

ECONOMIC GROWTH - Positive Growth
now AFTER BEING HANDED Negative by Bush.

TARP - with the threat of
further regulation, most of TARP has been paid back w/ interest! Under Bush,
this $$$ was loaned unconditionally amounting to corporate

TAXES, taxes are lower for all but the richest, despite GOP
obstruction! GOP recently fought tooth-and-nail to increase the burden on the
middle class via the payroll tax. Thank You Mr. Obama. Furthermore, Tax Policy
Center -- taking a close look at Romney's proposed tax and economic plan ---
concluded that it would cut taxes for the richest Americans and actually raise
them on the poor.

OBAMACARE: Nixon, McCain, Romney and Gingrich, all FOR
mandate before they were against it! Romney implemented the ORIGINAL Obamacare
and mandate was originally a GOP idea!

TERRORISM - under Obama's
leadership and renewed focus he promised during the 2008 election - we got

AMERICAN LIVES - Egypt and Libya uprising - NO AMERICAN

*** All of these things and more with NOTHING but GOP
Obstruction and fingerprinting!


·         146 votes

- Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:25 PM EDT

Sep 20, 2012 2:13PM


"Obama is so in love with himself, he can't see past the mirror!!"


He should have been an actor!!  He's great on stage and wants to be a star!!!

Sep 20, 2012 2:12PM
undecided, stop drinking the cool aid, who gives a rats a$$ what other countries pay for gas? I care what I pay and you and America and under obummer it has more than doubled and didnt need to and still could be 1.50 per gallon if he would stop being stupid. you are buying into their garbage, you are right he wants to make our dollar equal to all currencies to destroy our country. but the fact is our countries dollar is the foundation of all monies world wide it should not be equal without killing our country. But his goal is that exactly to change the monitary system to a world banking system with a new currency. Putin has already showed the new currency to the media simply look at the video on you tube, they are simply waiting for obummer to finish his job destroying us and he will joing with them in a new currecy world wide which destroys our nation as we know it totally. We become a third world nation instantly. That is his plan as prez if re-elected do your own research dont listen to the liberal media folks. You will one day soon regret it if he is reelected you are warned. seek the truth on your own!!!!
Sep 20, 2012 2:12PM

I'm voting for Romney and I am not rich by any means.... I'm just not stupid enough to vote for Obama:)

Sep 20, 2012 2:12PM
I'm retired, and we all know that SS isn't taxed so my tax rate is really low! But I'm still smart enough to know that socialism destroyed the European economies! Spain. Italy and Greece were wonderful places to be before the socialists gained control. Don't let that happen here! Vote out Obama/Biden!
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