No surprise there, of course. Polls have been consistent in showing that Medicare and Social Security are immensely popular programs. Two things are especially interesting in this latest poll, however, which comes from Pew Research Center. First, when the GOP says that Americans agree Medicare and Social Security have financial problems and need to be adjusted, they are correct. However, Americans part company with Republicans on where those adjustments should take place:
But these cherished programs receive negative marks for current performance, and their finances are widely viewed as troubled. Reflecting these concerns, most Americans say all three programs either need to be completely rebuilt or undergo major changes. However, smaller majorities express this view than did so five years ago.
The public’s desire for fundamental change does not mean it supports reductions in the benefits provided by Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. Relatively few are willing to see benefit cuts as part of the solution, regardless of whether the problem being addressed is the federal budget deficit, state budget shortfalls or the financial viability of the entitlement programs.
The second interesting thing is that support for keeping Medicare and Social Security benefits at their current levels is higher among lower-income Republicans:
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted June 15-19 among 1,502 adults, finds that Republicans face far more serious internal divisions over entitlement reforms than do Democrats. Lower income Republicans are consistently more likely to oppose reductions in benefits – from Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid – than are more affluent Republicans.
This says to me that support for or opposition to Medicare and Social Security has more to do with how significant these programs have been or are likely to be in YOUR life. Of course, Orrin Hatch and John Boehner and Eric Cantor think we “have no choice” but to cut the public retirement and health care programs that have saved millions of older, low- and middle-income Americans from poverty in the latter part of their lives. They have no need for those programs, never will, and do not have anyone in their circle of friends, family, and acquaintances who need or will need Medicare and Social Security.