Another section not covered in the NBC poll featuring a surge of support for President Obama is Social Security. We know pretty well that the President is hashing out some kind of response to Republicans on deficit reduction for the State of the Union. Again, with this poll resurgence he probably feels a bit pleased with where things stand at the two-year mark of his Presidency. What’s clear in the NBC poll is that the deficit is not nearly as important as job creation. And a separate poll from Celinda Lake shows that Social Security cuts would have a severely bad effect on the President’s electoral chances:
President Barack Obama’s apparent willingness to consider cuts in Social Security benefits may be winning him points with Washington elites, but it’s killing him with voters, who see the program as inviolate and may start to wonder what the Democratic Party stands for, if not for Social Security.
That’s the conclusion of three top progressive pollsters who spoke to reporters Wednesday at a briefing sponsored by the Economic Policy Institute, the Century Foundation and Demos.
“For the public, cutting benefits is the problem, not the solution,” said Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research Associates.
This isn’t just a self-preservation strategy for the President, but the entire Democratic Party, whose members will have trouble being elected dog catcher if they become the party that cuts Social Security. In the Lake Research poll, 82% of Americans oppose cuts to Social Security to reduce the deficit, and 67% oppose cuts to get the program to solvency. 69% oppose raising the retirement age. And 66% (including 59% of Republicans) support raising the payroll tax cap to bring the program into balance. The progressive positions on Social Security have 2/3 support or better in the country.
This is the poll finding that should scare Democrats:
Who will better handle Social Security?
Republicans vs. Democrats in Congress: 31% (R) to 28% (D); 34% both the same
Republicans in Congress vs. Obama: 33% (R) to 26% (Obama); 31% both the same
This is the first finding that Republicans are more trusted on Social Security since the 1930s. Obama’s trust rating is below George W. Bush on this front. So if he does call for benefit cuts in the State of the Union, he’ll realize the worst fears of the nation. When Democrats say “everything is on the table” in Social Security, they alienate the public on what should be a core issue. Running on a platform of cutting the program, in the words of Lake, is “a great way to really solidify our losses.”
One of the more interesting findings in the poll was how young people react to increasing the retirement age:
Young voters are traditionally considered the most likely to support changes in Social Security due to fears that it won’t be there when they retire. “But nobody told them they’re supposed to relish working a couple more years in this economy,” Lake said. They also don’t want older workers hoard the good jobs for even longer, she said.
This is just simple math. More people working longer means a greater barrier to entry in the workforce. That’s something people just embarking on their careers keenly understand. The Village clearly does not.