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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Lawmakers Supporting Social Security Cuts Risk Punishment In 2014, Poll Finds

SSA new Public Policy Polling survey conducted earlier this month finds that voters in 9 out of the 10 districts and states represented by lawmakers on the House-Senate budget conference committee strongly support protecting – and increasing – Social Security benefits.

The poll surveyed voters from five House districts – in Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and New York – and from five states: Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Washington. Voters in 9 out of 10 of the districts are represented by a legislator negotiating the next federal budget – and facing re-election in 2014.

Specifically, the poll says that Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mike Pryor (D-AR), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Representatives John Tierney (D-MA), Ron Barber (D-AZ), Tim Bishop (D-NY), Scott Peters (D-CA), and Lois Capps (D-CA) “all risk losing significant support if they vote to cut Social Security benefits” – an issue on which Democrats and Republicans are at odds.

According to the poll, 70 percent of the voters surveyed in the districts and states represented by the above congressmembers say they oppose cuts to Social Security benefits; 65 percent of them on average say that they actually support increasing Social Security benefits.

Especially important to the lawmakers facing re-election in 2014 is that an average 70 percent said they are less likely to support a candidate who voted to reduce benefits.

The poll also found that in 7 out of the 10 districts and states surveyed, the majority of voters did not know that President Barack Obama and a large portion of the GOP actually support reducing Social Security benefits. Furthermore, an overwhelming 73.7 percent of voters “reported no prior knowledge of pending legislation in both chambers that would increase benefits.”

As PPP’s Jim Williams notes, “These results indicate that if Democrats align themselves with expanding Social Security benefits in this round of negotiations, they can be seen at the forefront of an issue that has significant public support.”

It is no surprise that Social Security is an important issue to Americans; according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, among the program’s many beneficiaries, senior citizens in particular depend on Social Security benefits to stay out of poverty – 14 million seniors as of 2012, to be precise.

The PPP poll was conducted between November 8 and November 10 and surveyed between 600 and 1,000 voters in each district.

Photo: SalFalko via Flickr

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  • Defend Liberty

    Those of the liberty school understand that voluntary associations of free men are capable of far more than detached central planners.

    • Bryan Blake

      The problem is that your statement is an oxymoron. “Voluntary associations” is code for the strong over the weak and “central planners” always denote the railing against any governmental rule, regulation or program that provides support for the average person. There is no “school of liberty” on the right wind side – it is always about the suppression of the rights of and the oppression of the average person.

      • Allan Richardson

        This “school of liberty” philosophy, if applied to sports such as football, would fire the referees and allow a team to commit more and more personal fouls — hopefully stopping short of criminal battery == because they “voluntarily” decided it was OK for them. It’s like last year’s Super Bowl winning team change the rules to their benefit, and keep changing them whenever they want, and hire all the officials to make sure the same team wins every year.

        By the way, I noticed your new term, right WIND. It says everything about their bloviating.

        • Bryan Blake

          Thanks Allan. As a Boy Scout sitting at cook fires I quickly learned that little fire and high winds did not cook meals. No matter how hard the right tries most of their ideas cannot stand the test of fire – much less become political bread.

          Most of the ideas of the right can be classified as WIND. You can see and feel them but they have little or no substance unless you live atop of their political mount with their gods.

          As a Liberal I would rather navigate my canoe up Poop Creek without a paddle than be occupied by a wind-blown and barren conservative mind.

  • Bryan Blake

    Social Security and Medicare should be sacrosanct. No politician should even think about cutting them. It is only the ignorance of many people that allows the right wind to attack these social programs as they have since their inception. The infamous comment of 2010, at the planned attack upon a Democratic Congressman, exemplifies the intelligence of their constituents. “Keep your government hands off my Medicare.” As a Texan I was not shocked by the comment. I live amongst far too many of them.

    Perhaps we should go back to paper checks for social security and require medicare supplemental insurance companies on each statement to have in bold print: We are an authorized insurer by The United States Government.

    The real solution is a stronger safety net that includes increases in social security and single-payer medical insurance.

    In the meantime perhaps a computer “glitch” could delay the payments for a couple of weeks in Red States. Perhaps many would come to realize how important Social Security and Medicare are to them. And that may be the main reason why Republicans are afraid to shut down the government to the point it disturbs benefits. I know Social Security has its own trust fund. But if I were president I would probably not count the Social Security Administration among “essential employees”. I know I would take heat but those shutting down the government would take a lot more.

    • Allan Richardson

      That would be like sanctions on Iran; the innocent who ALREADY vote for and support Democrats would be punished along with the “guilty.”

  • Independent1

    Given that a number of the voters surveyed were from red states, and that 70 plus percent of those surveyed still opposed cuts to Social Security, you would think that at some point, people who have been voting for Republicans and are among the 70% opposing cuts to Social Security, would wise up and realize that they’ve been voting against their own best interests for too long.

    In how many different ways does the GOP have to let Americans know that it’s their intent to destroy Social Security and Medicare, before millions of voters who vote GOP realize that they’re being taken for a ride down a path to the destruction of their future lives??? Hopefully, millions of voters who have been voting in Republicans wise up to this fact by the 2014 and 2016 elections!!

    • Dominick Vila

      The part that does not make any sense to me is the fact that SS is being considered to reduce spending. SS is funded by FICA taxes, which we all pay. SS is still solvent, and could remain solvent for many years by making some simple changes, such as raising the contribution cap from $106K up to $250K or higher. Moreover, SS does not use general funds. I suspect the intent is to project the illusion that the national debt is being reduced by reducing the SS liabilities that are part of the national debt. That liability does not involve general funds being used to pay SS recipients, it involves the fact that the U.S. government is obligated to honor the benefits it promised in exchange for the taxes that we have all been paying into that program throughout our professional lives. In other words, cuts are being considered to achieve an accounting illusion and deflect attention from our decision to refuse to pay for what we need and benefit from.

      • Independent1

        I agree, it baffles me too as to why the GOP and even our President seem to believe that SS ever needs to be part of discussions concerning spending reductions. As you point out, SS, in reality, has no impact on spending. And even Medicare is having an increasingly smaller impact on spending since ACA was enacted without the GOP or Obama doing anything.

        I’m not sure if you get emails from the DailyKos. If not, here’s the link to an article in t he DailyKos which discusses how components of ACA have affected the Medicare costs such that by 2085, Medicare as a portion of national spending should drop to 4% instead of the 7% originally projected by the CBO. In fact, the CBO is now projecting that Medicare costs will be over 500 Billion lower from 2010 thru 2019 than it had originally projected. Here’s the link in case you haven’t seen the aritcle:

        • Dominick Vila

          Thanks for the link.

  • Sergio

    Looking at Kentucky, most of the individuals that never had healthcare insurance coverage, and are been enrolled into Obamacare, they are benefiting are commenting, “I will vote democratic” as for the first time they will be able to see a doctor…watch-out Sen. McConnell…!

  • tobyspeeks

    How about the idiots pay back what they’ve stolen from SS? The only things that need serious cuts are the military budget and corporate welfare. All financial problems solved.

  • stcroixcarp

    It is always easy to target vulnerable people for cuts, and to pit one group against the other. The current strategy is to pit younger people (our children and our children’s children) against old people (grandma and grandpa) who will die soon anyway. What the younger people like Ryan, Cantor etc don’t tell us, is that once our earned benefits are cut it will be permanent and people of their generation will suffer in two ways. 1) They will have to fill in financially for their own aging parents at a time in their lives when they are still financially responsible for their children. 2) If they are lucky, the youngers will become elders but with less earned benefits through SS and a bigger debt load. They will then need to rely on their own children, and so on.,, down through the generations. Each generation becoming poorer. Today’s seniors aren’t greedy by wanting to keep all their earned Social Security benefits, but protectors of our kids and grandkids as they age.

  • Socialism is Evil. Organized.

    With the institutions of freedom, private property, and rule of law in place during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, the citizens of the West voluntarily unleashed their abilities and created wealth on a scale never before seen.

    • Allan Richardson

      But the fruits of that wealth were kept away from many people who had contributed their labor until chattel slavery was abolished and minimum wages, unions, Social Security, etc. were enacted. The law used to condemn workers to death for demonstrating for their rights, AFTER slavery had been officially abolished.

    • LotusJoan

      Once we, the American worker, created it -we never saw it
      again. I think that Ms. Palin could use you as a speech writer. She
      would still end up saying nothing but oh so eloquently

  • howa4x

    If the seniors bolt the GOP they will have no strong constituency left since they already alienated women, the young people, environmentalists, Latinos, minorities, gays, Thinking people, and most independents. The Tea party and Evangelicals both only poll at 14% and that is not enough to propel the GOP into the White house. Plus They are canceled out by progressives and gospel progressives who also poll at 14% in order to appease both groups the GOP will have to make concessions like banning abortion or contraception, or more drastic budget cuts that will further alienate other groups. Paul Ryan doesn’t look like much of a budget wonk now. He was the one pushing privatization and the point person the cutting SS benefits. I think once again though the House will come through with bone head leadership on cutting social security like they have on Immigration and a shutdown. Don’t forget that the GOP states are continuing their war on women, unions, the environment, obstructing the ACA, immigration and same sex marriage. They are also funneling public ed dollars to charter schools and some states are funneling dollars to religious schools. Do I hear creationism? So voters are already being relied up about these issues. Obama has to hold the line and not make anymore statements about the issue. His chaining of SS to the CPI didn’t go over real well. All he has to do now is to get republicans to make cutting SS a large part of any budget deal publically. I think he will have plenty of tea party house members that would love to take the Mic on this issue. Then again maybe the GOP s secretly having a contest to see how many different groups they can alienate from the GOP brand? Seems like it to me.

  • Montesquieu

    Since each of us is different, the only way to equalize us would be to treat each of us unequally.

  • ThomasBonsell

    We are always being told that Social Security benefits will have to be reduced to address the nationl debt. Apparently President Obama also believes that.

    But reducing SS benefits will increase the debt, not reduce it, and very few people can comprehend that. Increasing SS benefits can lower the growth of the debt.

    It works this way. All surplus funds from the payroll tax must be spent for Treasury debt instruments, according to the law, rather than sit idle. So any surplus must be turned into debt. It has been this way since 1938 when SS was off to a running start.

    In 1983, Ronald Reagan, a GOP Senate and conservative House raised the payroll tax by hundreds of billions of dollars to mask his out-of-control deficits.. That produced huge surpluses that went for Treasury IOUs until George W. Bush trashed the economy. Surpluses returned in January of this year and must go into Treasury IOUs, and that increases the debt. If benefits were reduced, the surplus would grow and so would the debt. But, if benefits were increased, that would reduce the surplus and reduce the amount of money going intoTreasury IOUs.

    If these Congress members wanted to reduce the debt, they should put SS spending into deficit, that would require cash from the general fund to go to Social Security to retire the IOUs that have been piling up since 1983.

    To get the cash for debt reduction would require corporations to start paying taxes, as they once did, and the aristocracy to pay at a rate similar to that paid by working middle- class Americans. For those reasons, it probably won’t be done.

    Have been trying to get Paul Krugman to explain to the American public how this Reagan scam has increased the national debt by creating SS surpluses, but he doesn’t seem to understand it either.

  • JSquercia

    Listen to Elisabeth Warren , who speaks TRUTH to Power .We are facing a Retirement Crisis which was created when Traditional Defined Benefit Plans were replaced by 401-K plans that shifted Retirement Risk to the worker . Most 410-K plans have less than 100,000 dollars in them . As for the other leg of the so called 3 legged stool, Private Savings for most workers these are even less than their 401-K’s and with todays paltry returns on Savings they hardly generate any income at all . Not to mention that these meager returns are then taxed .
    On the topic of the chained COLA warren has an entirely different take proposing one that more accurately reflects the cost of living for Seniors by taking into account the far greater portion of their expenses devoted to Medical Bills and food .