The Biggest Threat to the Economy Is Washington
Policy + Politics

The Biggest Threat to the Economy Is Washington

As Donald Trump approaches his 100th day as President and steward of the U.S. economy, the results of two new surveys suggest that while high economic anxiety has eased since the election, the political climate in Washington remains of deep concern.

One poll discovered that despite the election of a populist who gave voice to “flyover country,” 74 percent of Americans still feel forgotten.

Related: New Forecast Sees Steady Upturn in the Economy

A poll found that at 38 percent, the political environment in Washington tops all other concerns about the economy for the next six months including instability abroad (19 percent), terrorism (14 percent), rising interest rates (10 percent) and a stock market decline (9 percent).

In a similar Bankrate poll last September, 61 percent said politics was the biggest threat to the economy, reflecting concern about the outcome of the election. Back then, Republicans were more anxious than Democrats by 68 to 60 percent. Now the election is settled, and only 28 percent of Republicans see politics as the biggest threat vs. 52 percent of Democrats.

But why does the political environment remain the No. 1 worry?

A survey conducted for the public radio show Marketplace and released yesterday might offer one answer. The survey found that only about 43 percent of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the economy, but like the Bankrate survey, economic angst has declined since the election.

Related: The US Economy Is Humming Along, but a Big Jump in Growth Is Unlikely

What the Marketplace-Edison Research Poll did identify, however, is strikingly high concern about health care coverage, with four out of five Americans worried about it – and 49 percent very worried.

A story on the Marketplace website quoted Edison Research President Larry Rosin as saying, “A huge majority of people say they worry, at least sometimes, about healthcare — about it wrecking them financially, about being unable to find insurance or being able to pay for things. So, for all the reasons that people have economic anxiety, it turns out healthcare is probably the single-biggest driver. More so than even jobs.”

Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate, said that its survey did not ask specifically about healthcare, “but we can imagine that is part of [the economic anxiety].” He said “think about the things that make people go bankrupt. Not having healthcare coverage is at the top of the list.”

Like the Bankrate poll, the Marketplace survey also pointed up the public discontent with Washington. “Our study shows that people remain very unhappy and distressed with what Washington is doing for them or to them,” Rosin said. “And there is no sign yet that a new administration, one that sort of ran against Washington, has been able to reverse that perception at all.”