Majority of voters say “do something” about Social Security: A new survey says voters expect Social Security to be “bankrupt” in ten years- although voter intensity on the issue is low.
Social Security in Trouble?
As of the latest trustees report, issued by the government in the spring, Social Security will run out of runway to pay out full benefits in 2033. After that, unless Congress makes some sort of change to the formula that funds Social Security, benefits will be reduced.
“Social Security and Medicare are two bedrock programs that older Americans rely upon for their retirement security,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen said in a statement back in March, once the new figures were announced. “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring the long-term viability of these critical programs so that retirees can receive the hard-earned benefits they’re owed.”
Now, a new survey looks at what the general public thinks about Social Security.
The survey, released Wednesday, comes from the Taxpayer Protection Alliance (TPA), and is called the “Entitlement Reform Survey.”
In the survey, participants were told “if we do nothing to financially secure Social Security, the program will be bankrupt in eight to ten years and will face severe cuts.” In the replies, 83 percent of those surveyed found this statement represented “total true” and 17 percent represented “total untrue.”
Then, participants were told two statements: That Social Security’s reserves would “be depleted by 2035 or earlier and require an automatic 23% benefit cut,” and that once that happens, “Social Security will only have enough funds to pay 77% of scheduled benefits to its beneficiaries.”
After they were told both statements, respondents answered with big majorities in favor of the statement that “policymakers should begin implementing changes as soon as possible to extend the life of the program, avoid benefit cuts, and ensure that future participants have enough benefits to help support them in retirement.”
Survey respondents also agreed that candidates for the presidency and other offices in 2024 should address Social Security, and should “discuss the financial challenges facing the Social Security program and outline their solutions to ensure it remains solvent.”
But of course, it is easy to say that politicians should work to shore up Social Security and that they should talk about doing so. It’s much less easy to come up with a solution to that problem that works.
The survey also polled various proposed solutions for adjustments to Social Security to assure its sustainability.
When they were asked what they thought of the idea of “Limit benefits for higher income and wealthier beneficiaries,” 38 percent of respondents called it “totally acceptable,” while 71 percent answered “totally/mostly acceptable.”
When asked about the proposal to “Cut spending on other federal government programs,” with the savings presumably transferred to Social Security, 27 percent said “totally acceptable” while 60 percent answered either totally or mostly acceptable. When asked if they support the idea to “eliminate benefits for higher income and wealthier beneficiaries,” 27 percent said “totally acceptable and 59 percent answered “totally or mostly acceptable.”
Other answers were less popular, such as “Eliminate benefits for higher income and wealthier beneficiaries,” “Increase taxes on Social Security benefits,” and “Do nothing and allow automatic cuts to be made to individuals’ Social Security benefits.” All of those had single-digit support, in the “totally acceptable” category.
These issues have not yet really entered the realm of politics yet. In the 2022 midterms, Democrats had some success portraying themselves as the guardians of Social Security, after some Republican gaffes in which they appeared to state that they weren’t committed to keeping the program alive.
Some members of Congress have introduced bills to shore up the health of Social Security, but none have moved forward, at any point in the Biden era, even the Democrats had full control of Congress in the first two years of the current Administration.
Author Expertise and Experience:
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.
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