Less than a quarter of Americans support trimming Social Security or Medicare to tackle the country's budget deficit, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll that illustrates the challenge facing lawmakers seeking voter support for altering entitlement programs.More at the link.
The poll, conducted between Feb. 24 and 28, found strong opposition for cuts to these entitlement programs across all age groups and ideologies. Even tea party supporters, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, declared cuts to Social Security "unacceptable."
The poll, however, revealed willingness by some respondents to make sacrifices to keep the programs from going broke.
Well over half of Americans favor bumping the retirement age to 69 by 2075, up from 66 now. An even larger share supports reducing retirement and Medicare payments to wealthier Americans.
The opposition against entitlement cuts comes four months after voters elected a crop of governors and conservative federal lawmakers who campaigned against government spending. Congressional Republicans have focused so far on cuts to discretionary spending. But a small group of U.S. senators in both parties has begun talks over changes to entitlement programs, as well as to the tax code.
House Republicans want to make entitlement reductions a key part of their next budget, while several likely 2012 GOP candidates vow to propose ways to shore up the finances of Social Security and Medicare as part of any campaign.
But Republican Bill McInturff and Democrat Peter Hart, the pollsters who conducted the survey, said it raised warning signs for anyone proposing cuts to those programs, which provide retirement benefits to seniors and help pay for their health-care, and to Medicaid, a health plan for the poor. The costs of those programs, which already make up 43% of federal spending, are expected to balloon in coming years.
Before you know it, folks won't be able to retire with full benefits until their 70s. Maybe that's good, but a lot of people are physically unable to work that long. And there's lots of economic pessimism at the poll. Check this out:
Americans remain clearly torn on the big questions of the national debt, government spending and the role of government in promoting jobs. Eight in 10 respondents said the growing federal deficit threatened to affect their family's future, but 62% also feared the effect of widespread cuts to government spending. Meanwhile, by a wide margin, more people saw job creation as a higher priority than deficit reduction.It's a classic problem of the modern welfare state. As government grows to accommodate increasing demands for economic security, the political system gets locked into a collective action problem that disables the systems capacity to respond to economic crises. The going would be a tad bit easier if the voters dump the Democrats in 2012, which will be tough but not impossible, especially of economic growth remains tepid. See, "Federal deficit on track for a record this fiscal year: Government debt to exceed U.S. economy."