Building an Economy that Works for Everyone

Chart of the week: Americans want the Social Security benefits they paid for to be left alone

A new poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center shows that Americans from across the political spectrum: 1) realize Social Security is not responsible for the deficit, 2) believe that preserving Social Security is critical in difficult economic times, and 3) strongly oppose reducing Social Security benefits.

The poll, released by the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, surveyed 764 people, asking them about the national budget deficit, benefits, and other possible changes to to the program. One of the questions asked whether participants thought policymakers should make significant changes to Social Security:

“Do you think that policy makers in Washington should significantly change Social Security to reduce the national deficit or should they leave Social Security alone and look at other ways of reducing the deficit?”

Here’s how their responses tallied up:

social security graph

Click to enlarge

Social Security did not cause the current fiscal crisis, and the Congressional Budget Office projects that current payroll taxes will be sufficient to pay full benefits through 2039. The lifetime contributions of hard-working Americans have funded the program for decades, and they have earned those benefits. Social Security can be fully funded after that date by simply by removing the cap on taxable earnings (currently income above $106800 is not taxed for Social Security benefits).

The modicum of economic security provided by Social Security allows retired and disabled Americans to live in dignity — and keep themselves and their families off the streets and out of the poorhouse. Slashing benefits or raising the retirement age for Social Security — as some deficit hawks propose — is actually a recipe for economic disaster for American families. And voters know it.

You can read the entire poll report here.

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