Most Americans Think Washington Will Hurt Their Finances: Poll

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Only 23% of Americans in a new survey expressed confidence that the current leadership in Washington would have a positive effect on their finances, down five percentage points from a year ago, Bankrate.com reported Thursday.

Forty percent of poll participants said they expected the leadership to have a negative effect, way up from 26% last year. Thirty percent said Washington would not influence their finances one way or another.

SSRS Omnibus conducted a bilingual telephone survey for Bankrate.com in early December with 1,007 respondents.

Thirty-eight percent of Americans who purported to feel optimistic about the Trump administration’s effect on their finances said they would benefit from a lighter tax burden.

On Wednesday, the Republican Congress sent a major tax overhaul bill to the White House for the president’s expected signature.

Eighteen percent of optimists looked forward to their investments increasing in value, 9% to rising income and 6% to decreasing expenses. Five percent said their assets would benefit from all these factors.

Taxes were also the major consideration for those with a negative view of Washington. Forty-six percent worried that they would pay more in taxes.

Other concerns: 15% cited higher expenses, 9% lower income and 4% decreasing value of their investments. Ten percent said all these circumstances would affect them.

“Americans remain sharply divided over how Washington affects their personal finances, and taxes are certainly a key issue,” Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick said in a statement.

“Although the tax legislation has potentially negative impacts for many individuals with shrinking tax brackets and eliminated deductions, others will benefit from a boost in take-home pay — allowing for more money to be put toward savings for emergencies and retirement.”

Not surprisingly, respondents’ expectations broke down along political lines. Fifty-seven percent of those identified as Republicans said they expected a positive effect from Washington leadership, while 68% of Democrats expected the effect to be negative.

For their part, 42% of independents said they expected a negative effect, and 38% said there would be no effect.

Also not surprising was residents of the Northeast and the West being likelier to cite a negative effect. Bankrate noted that states in those regions would feel the heaviest burden from potential tax changes affecting deductibility of mortgage interest, property taxes, and state and local income taxes.

Finally, Gen Xers, baby boomers and older Americans in the survey were likelier to say Washington would have a positive effect on their finances.

Meanwhile, millennials were more likely that older respondents to say their finances would not be affected either way. Millennials’ top answer was negative effect, followed closely by no effect.

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