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Poll: Public Rejects Any Social Security or Medicare Cuts, Prefers Progressive Economic Solutions

A new poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research shows that the public doesn’t want any cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and that they are just as interested in investment in jobs as deficit reduction. In fact, deficit reduction can be seen as a stand-in for jobs and economic recovery, if you read into the poll.

Here are some of the major findings:

68 percent said they would oppose making major spending cuts in Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit, while 28 percent said they would favor cutting those programs. That included 61 percent of Republicans and 56 percent of independents.

Strong majorities support progressive solutions for addressing the federal deficit: 63 percent back lifting the Social Security cap on incomes higher than $107,000 a year; 64 percent would favor eliminating tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs; 62 percent would support a tax on excessive Wall Street bank profits.

Strong majorities also oppose common conservative proposals for addressing the budget deficit: 65 percent oppose raising the Social Security retirement age to 70; 65 percent oppose replacing Medicare with a private sector voucher; 62 percent oppose a 3 percent federal sales tax; 60 percent oppose raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67.

People have a pretty normal view of the economy, overall. They want to invest in the future, rebuild the country and create jobs now, and emphasize that over long-term deficit reduction. This includes federal aid to the states to prevent public safety and education layoffs, seen as positive by 62% of those surveyed. They also responded positively to the completely mundane idea that economic growth would create the revenues to pay down the budget deficit.

Meanwhile, the schizophrenic conservative plan on these matters is to cut spending and waste to lower the deficit, but also give tax cuts for the rich that would cost $36 billion dollars just next year.

The Two Santa Claus theory of endless tax cuts and endless services has traditionally won the day. But according to this poll, voters have a more sophisticated outlook, based on investment in the future. And they don’t want to see the safety net created for them in their old age whittled away.

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David Dayen

David Dayen