Most Oppose Cutting Social Security (data)

There is class warfare. The rich have declared class warfare on the middle class. They want to take your money. They’ve already spent it on tax cuts for the rich. They took that 2.5 trillion dollar surplus and already gave it to the rich and the defense contractors and the bankers and the bailouts, etc, etc. They already gave it away, and now they don’t want to give it back… even though they owe it to you.

Now, you’re going to sit there and take that.  Don’t worry. Why don’t we elect a president that campaigned on change so that we don’t have to take it? Oh right. We already did that… and he’s got a deficit commission with 14 out of 18 people who are fiscal conservatives looking to cut social security. And you wonder why the American people get discouraged with politics.

If Obama were a progressive or a liberal, he wouldn’t even think about touching social security. If he doesn’t want to be criticized by the professional left (and by the average American for that matter), he shouldn’t have a commission with fiscal conservatives to discuss how to go about robbing average Americans of the benefits they’ve already paid for.

Doesn’t Obama understand that Social Security is one of the most popular progressive accomplishments ever to be passed? It is, certainly, a far greater accomplishment than Obama’s health insurance bill which excluded the majority support for such things as public option. Even Republicans used to understand what now even most Democrats in Washington have apparently forgotten. As Esenhower explained it:

…the Federal government cannot avoid or escape responsibilities which the mass of the people firmly believe should be undertaken by it. The political processes of our country are such that if a rule of reason is not applied in this effort, we will lose everything–even to a possible and drastic change in the Constitution. This is what I mean by my constant insistence upon “moderation” in government. Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.

Is Obama really so clueless, so out of touch with the American people to believe that the criticisms of the ‘professional left’ aren’t shared by many Americans across the political spectrum. The American people are a lot more liberal and progressive than they are given credit for.

See my post which shows the overwhelming evidence:

US Demographics & Increasing Progressivism

And here is the article where the poll was first written about:

Public Opposes Cutting Social Security To Trim Deficit: New Poll

…according to a new survey paid for by AARP and conducted by GfK Roper […] finds that 85 percent of adults oppose cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit; 72 percent “strongly oppose” doing so.

Numbers like that simply don’t appear in surveys of almost any other national issue that is subject to debate.

In fact, the AARP survey turns conventional wisdom about taxes on its head: half of all non-retired adults said that they would be willing to pay higher payroll taxes to ensure that Social Security will be there for them; 57 percent of adults under 50 would be willing to pay such a tax.

…The survey found that support for the program is intense even among those who said they aren’t confident that it will survive — a reasonable conclusion, given the hysteria and deception involved in the debate.

The anti-Social Security propaganda is having an effect, the poll found: Only 21 percent of respondents knew that if the trust fund is exhausted, the program will still be able to pay out benefits at a slightly reduced level.

See the poll data at the following link:

Social Security 75th Anniversary Survey Report: Public Opinion Trends

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Since I posted the above, the debate about social security continues and the threats to it are increasing. That was just one poll from a year ago. I figured I should add some additional polling data and commentary. I came across a single page that appears to present all the polling data done in recent years: – Social Security 

Social Security has always been and continues to be widely and strongly supported, but Americans aren’t unreasonable. They are willing to compromise, although agreement about compromises are hard to find.

Hawkeye Poll: Majority of Americans supports Social Security reform

Nearly nine out of 10 respondents supported at least one reform, and two-thirds supported at least two reforms.

Of the five possible reforms proposed, two received majority support: half supported increasing the retirement age by up to three years, and 55 percent supported raising the income ceiling on Social Security taxes. Nearly half (48 percent) supported increasing the payroll tax by 2 percent.

Some proposed reforms would be much less popular, according to the poll. Seventy-eight percent opposed a decrease in benefits, and 60 percent opposed decreasing the cost-of-living adjustment.

The poll revealed important differences across generations, and across parties.

Nearly 60 percent of Democrats and half of Independents support increasing the payroll tax, but 68 percent of Republicans oppose such an increase. A majority of Democrats (66 percent) and Independents (60 percent) also support raising the income limit on Social Security taxes, but only 40 percent of Republicans would like to see that happen. In contrast, 64 percent of Republicans support increasing the retirement age while many Democrats (48 percent) and Independents (47 percent) oppose this option.

Younger Americans were more supportive of increasing payroll taxes. That option was supported by 53 percent of people ages 18 to 34 and 57 percent of those 35 to 54. Only 30 percent of respondents in the 55 to 69 age range and 33 percent of those older than 70 support such a move.

Older respondents were more supportive of raising the retirement age. Fifty-eight percent of people 70 or older and 50 percent of those ages 55 to 69 supported a three-year increase in the retirement age. But only 42 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 40 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds support that option.

Americans would rather put the burden on the rich (than on the poor and elderly) and cut almost anything else before they’d go along with letting politicians take an axe to Social Security.

2010 Midterm Election Voters Reject Cuts to Social Security

5: Which of the following statements do you agree with more: To reduce the federal budget deficit… Congress should let the tax cuts for the wealthy expire as planned? Congress should cut Social Security benefits? Or, do you agree with neither?

1030 Election-2008 Voters All Gender Party
Margin of Sampling Error: ± 3.1% Male Female Republican Democrat Independ
Let The Tax Cuts For The Wealthy Expire 40% 38% 42% 17% 61% 40%
Cut Social Security Benefits 4% 6% 3% 6% 2% 4%
Neither 56% 57% 56% 78% 37% 56%
Composition of Election-2008 Voters 100% 49% 51% 29% 32% 39%

6: Which of these statements best describes your views on Social Security: Congress should make up for possible budget gaps by cutting Social Security benefits? Congress should make up for possible budget gaps by changing the social security tax to also apply to income above $108,000, which currently is not taxed by Social Security? Or, Congress should not make any changes to Social Security?

1030 Election-2008 Voters All Gender Party
Margin of Sampling Error: ± 3.1% Male Female Republican Democrat Independ
Cutting Social Security Benefits 4% 4% 3% 5% 1% 5%
Changing The Social Security Tax 55% 58% 52% 44% 59% 59%
Not Make Any Changes 31% 28% 33% 40% 28% 26%
Not Sure 11% 10% 11% 12% 11% 9%
Composition of Election-2008 Voters 100% 49% 51% 29% 32% 39%

7: OK, which of THESE statements best describes your views on Social Security: Congress should make up for possible budget gaps by raising the Social Security retirement age? Congress should make up for possible budget gaps by changing the social security tax to also apply to income above $108,000, which currently is not taxed by Social Security? Or, Congress should not make any changes to Social Security?

1030 Election-2008 Voters All Gender Party
Margin of Sampling Error: ± 3.1% Male Female Republican Democrat Independ
Raising Retirement Age 13% 14% 11% 18% 7% 14%
Changing The Social Security Tax 54% 56% 53% 40% 60% 60%
Not Make Any Changes 25% 23% 27% 33% 23% 21%
Not Sure 8% 7% 9% 9% 11% 5%
Composition of Election-2008 Voters 100% 49% 51% 29% 32% 39%

The problems Republicans face are: (1) most Americans would rather not make changes unless there are no other options; (2) most Americans don’t agree on which changes would be best; and (3) most Americans (particularly Democrats & Independents but also including Republicans & Tea Partiers) are more in agreement with most liberal positions on this issue than they are with what has been presented by the GOP. There is much more public support in making no changes than there is public agreement on which changes should be made if it comes to that. Republican leaders, in terms of the American people, can’t win for losing. But somehow, despite everything being in their favor, Democrat leaders keep bending over backwards to agree with the unpopular position of Republicans.

Poll: Cut Social Security benefits or raise payroll cap? Not even close

Public Policy Polling for Daily Kos. 1/20-23. Registered voters. MoE 3.1% (No trend lines)

Currently, workers pay social security payroll taxes on up to $106,800 of their salary. To ensure the long-term viability of Social Security, would you rather have people pay social security taxes on salaries above $106,800, or would you rather see benefits cut and the retirement age increased to age 69?

payroll cap   Cut benefits

All         77            10

Dem         84             4
GOP         69            17
Ind         77            11

Tea Party   67            20

18-29       80             0
30-45       69            17
46-65       82             8
65+         75            13

$0-30K      79             5
$30-50K     75            11
$50-75K     79             7
$75-100K    78            13
$100K+      72            18

The numbers above are stark. The largest proponents of cutting benefits are the Tea Party folks, and just 20 percent of them opt for the austerity solution. Even among those most affected — people making over $100,000 per year — only 18 percent opt for benefits cuts rather than raising the payroll tax cap. And for those least affected — the youngest cohort — the poll couldn’t pick up any support for cutting benefits.

Yet outside of the punditry, the DC political class, and a tiny fringe, no one wants benefits cuts.

Democrats could be scoring mad political points by going on the offensive, vowing to defend Social Security against all enemies, and fighting to equalize the program’s tax burden. (I wouldn’t just raise the cap on payroll taxes entirely, but I’d also use the increased revenues to lower payroll taxes on the low and middle classes and/or lower the retirement age.)

But no, raising the cap is off limits, and the entire political establishment is focused on delivering more pain to seniors.

There’s no better illustration of how DC is broken than this.

National Academy of Social Insurance

…a new brief and recent poll show that support for strengthening Social Security is strong across racial and cultural groups. The brief, Tough Times Require Strong Social Security Benefits (PDF), released today by the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), presents detailed views on Social Security among African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and White Americans.

Current economic hardships brought on by instability in U.S. financial markets have reinforced Americans’ belief in the importance of Social Security. Anxious about their economic security and prospects for retirement, large majorities of Americans (88%) say that Social Security is more important than ever. Although Social Security enjoys support from a majority of Americans, African Americans and Hispanics (91%) are more likely than whites (77%) to say that we have an obligation to provide a secure retirement for all working Americans.

Plagued by higher unemployment rates, fewer assets, and worries about paying their monthly bills, African Americans and Hispanics are especially supportive of strengthening Social Security, according to the brief (PDF). For example, when given a choice between cutting taxes and government spending or strengthening Social Security in response to the economic crisis and large deficit, two in three Americans (66%) – including 73 percent of African Americans, 67 percent of Hispanics, and 66 percent of whites – support strengthening Social Security over cutting its benefits.

“Although African Americans and Hispanics, who are more heavily reliant on Social Security benefits, express stronger support than whites in most areas,” said Maya Rockeymoore, CEO of Global Policy Solutions and co-author of the brief (PDF), “these findings show that Americans of all colors firmly believe in Social Security’s value to society and want government leaders to take action to keep the program vibrant for future generations.”

Americans are also willing to pay to keep Social Security in existence for future generations. More than three in four Americans (76%) and an even greater proportion of African Americans (86%) and Hispanics (85%), don’t mind paying Social Security taxes because otherwise they would have to support their family members in their retirement. Similarly, 90% of African Americans, 90 percent of Hispanics, and 86 percent of whites agree that Social Security’s societal benefits are worth the cost.

Further polling data and commentary: