As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Public Supports Entitlement Overhaul, but Not Cuts

Updated 4:09 pm

With Social Security and Medicare reform apparently in the debt ceiling talks mix, the Pew Research Center has just released a poll showing that the public indeed supports major changes to the programs – but not cuts in benefits.

This is approximately like saying you want to lose weight, but on the Kentucky Fried Chicken diet designed by Col. Sanders.

According to the poll, 54 percent of Americans say Medicare – where the deficit reduction big bucks are – needs major changes or should be completely rebuilt, while 38 percent think it’s working pretty well. However, when asked which is more important, taking steps to reduce the deficit or keeping Medicare and Social Security benefits the way they are, only 32 percent choose reducing the deficit, while 60 percent say leave the benefits untouched.

According to Pew:

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.

So here’s the question: Will our political leaders over the coming days take a political risk to actually reduce the deficit? Anyone who has studied the problem knows the money is in the entitlements.

Leadership on such a fundamental matter must come from the president, and the top Republicans must be close behind. So far we’ve gotten general statements from Obama on wanting to address entitlements. We’ll see if he backs up the words with real, politically risky proposals.

UPDATE: One of our readers, Susan, made a statement in the comments section that I think should be part of the actual story:

It all depends on how the question is asked. Pollsters know how to manipulate a question to get the answer they want. The question I would like to see asked: Do you favor a overhaul of Medicare, which may result in reduced benefits, as long as current beneficiaries and people 55 and older are not impacted by the reform? Bet you would get an overwhelmingly positive response if the question were posed that way.

This, in fact, is the only kind of reform being considered, and indeed, pollsters who leave this qualification out are not being responsible.

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25 Responses to Public Supports Entitlement Overhaul, but Not Cuts

  1. Yes, the money, so-called, is in the entitlements–but structural changes can be phased in, rather than chopping people who desperately cling to this money they were promised and paid into. Yes, they paid less than they may collect–but they thought someone smart was minding the store. We elected them to. We paid them to. All the money to pay the debt should not come from here.

  2. That chain-weighted CPI deal they tried for (overshot the runway, they said) was REALLY tricky. You have to watch these people every sec. We should post guards at nite.

  3. My phone co Quest is now Century Link, my B of A mortgage co is now different, and worst of all Ing Direct, WHICH I LIKED, sold that awful Capital One place. Now I need a new online bank…Are there any?

  4. What’s that old saying ‘lead by example’ until the Obama’s take that to heart and stop spending on vacations, golfing an clothes it just ain’t gonna happen.
    They don’t know or care about the struggles of average American’s they are
    far too busy trying to get their charge card extended for another 4 years. I
    mean you don’t expect them to work do you? I mean it doesn’t matter to them if the budget is balanced won’t miss a vacation or a golf game or a
    new wardrobe for HRH Michelle!

  5. It all depends on how the question is asked. Pollster know how to manipulate a question to get the answer they want. The question I would like to see asked:
    Do you favor a overhaul of Medicare, which may result in reduced benefits, as long as current beneficiaries and people 55 and older are not impacted by the reform?
    Bet you would get an overwhelmingly positive response if the question were posed that way.

    I’m just wondering why they are trying to tackle all these behemoth programs in such a rushed fashion. Even Paul Ryan’s plan didn’t touch on Social Security. Take the time to discuss it with the American people and don’t just shoved down our throats like you did with Obamacare.

    Take spending back to 2008 levels. They are using the failed stimulus as a the baseline for their budget and we’re not falling for it. Take a look at the GAO report ordered by Senator Coburn — http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d11318sp.pdf Lots of immediate cuts they could make there. Get to work and stop trying to scare the people who depend on SS, Medicare, and Medicaid. Start with the small stuff.

    • I sometimes think they just throw the old folks under the bus like a trial
      balloon. And the way the question is ask makes a big difference. Of
      course we mere mortals aren’t thought to be smart enough to figure
      that out for ourselves:)

  6. Entitlements and other government programs do need changed. The boondoggles of government largess are what got us into this mess to begin with, and only by cutting out all non-essential programs will we ever get to a balanced budget.

    Eliminate all funding to programs like NPR, NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), the MAC twins, Planned Parenthood, military procurement that the military does NOT want (the F35 third engine for example), and any and all “pork barrel” projects. Granted that will NOT balance the budget, but it will make a dent, however small, into this ballooning deficit.

    Keep the “safety nets” as just that, safety nets. If someone is on TANIF for years, it is not a safety net, but a lifestyle. There are people out there, through no fault of their own, that are in desperate need of help, and we as a society should help them.

    Allow for all charitable donations to be tax deductible, without limitations. If a rich person (someone making over $250k p/yr according to the President) wants to donate 50% of their income to charity, let them and let them take the full amount as a deduction. I think you would see charitable donations go through the roof.

    In my humble opinion may of the respondents to Pew’s survey probably have older parents or are older themselves, and are fearful that the burden of having to take care of an elderly parent in the twilight of life will fall on the younger members of the family. Ones that, in this uncertain economic times, can not afford the extra costs.

    • No joke. We have taken care of Mom’s decisions and overseen EVERYTHING for 16 yrs now and counting. Thank goodness, she has money. Or still has some.

  7. SocialSecurity wasn’t voluntary; we paid on demand.
    Medicare wasn’t voluntary, either.
    SocialSecurity funds are now being paid to anyone of any age with a disablility that a willing doctor says keeps them from being a productive worker.
    Seniors don’t see a dime of Medicare payouts, they are paid to healthcare providers at a rate of 80/20%. Seniors pay the 20%.
    Seniors collecting their promised return on the money confiscated from their paychecks for 45years are not to blame for the current financial mess.

    • Amen–we paid into the Ponzi scheme whether we wanted to or not. We had no say when Congress began siphening the funds out in the late 1960s to help pay for LBJ’s Great Society and kept it up for one social engineering scheme after another. All I want is the money that was taken from me under false pretenses, plus the interest I would have earned if I had handled the funds myself.

      • If they are turned down for benefits, all they have to do is hire a shyster lawyer who works with a shyster judge to make it happen. See the commercials for them on daytime TV all the time.

        • It’s pretty hard to get disability even with a shyster–this line of discussion sounds a little like the welfare queen deal. I know someone on SSI with bipolar and I hate to say it, but she is squirrely.

      • That is why there is an 18-24 month back log of cases for disability hearings. One would think that with all the extra federal employees that have been hired in the past two years things would be running smoother. But we all know that the more people you throw at a problem or system, the less efficient it becomes.

        Then you have the case of states and local governments having to let case managers, cops, fire fighters, parole and probation officers go because the state’s economy has flat lined, and there is no money to pay salaries to the people actually doing the front line work.

    • Bravo srdem! You are absolutely correct. They mishandled the money you and I and millions of baby boomers involuntarily contributed to their social engineering programs. Bernie Madoff doesn’t have anything on these crooks. Unlike Bernie they won’t spend the rest of their lives in jail, because many of them are dead and gone. The rest of the career politicians need to be sent packing in the next election.

      You are spot on about SSDI. Saw a case on Judge Judy a few years back where one young healthy looking female was testifying. It came out that she was on SSDI for agoraphobia. How ironic is it that an agoraphobic could appear on national tv? My guess is there are many more freeloaders like this lady who are stealing benefits from the elderly.

  8. Looks like Barry managed to squeeze in some R&R after all-poor baby glad he was able to take a break…

    “Obama taking a breather at Camp David
    By: The Associated Press | The Associated Press | 07/09/11 4:49 AM

    After a tense week of wrestling with the nation’s deficit, President Barack Obama will head for Camp David on Saturday.

    Obama will overnight at the presidential retreat in the Maryland mountains.

    But it’s back to work on the deficit Sunday (after golf? – CLoo) when he returns to the White House to meet with top congressional budget negotiators.”

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2011/07/obama-taking-breather-camp-david

    Tense week? It is called a job – well in Os case he has a part-time job-

    AP biased much?

  9. There are a lot more ways to save money than going after medicare and SS.

    No more foreign aid.
    Defund the UN and boot their asses out. Maybe they could relocate to Pakistan or Egypt.
    Bring our people home. No more lives lost for no reason. They could cover the border.
    Kill the EPA, the NEA, the brain dead at the ATF.
    Stop the anchor baby crap.
    Gosh, I got a million of them, and none require our elderly and disabled to take a hit.

  10. I assume most of you know why guaranteed ‘pensions’ were eliminated decades ago by private industry and replaced by 401K’s?
    Yet, the public sector and government has not and fights like hell to keep it going..

    • Techie, The federal government reformed pensions back in 1983. Any employee hired after then contributes to TSP, which is basically a 401K. While there are unions in the federal civil service they have no collective bargaining rights.

      Public sector pensions are under the purview of each state. Some states, especially those that are not right to work states, have never reformed pensions because of push back from public unions, even though they knew they were a ticking time bomb that would one day bankrupt them.

      In the good times we stopped paying attention and the local, state, and federal governments have had free reign over our tax dollars. We are only starting to pay attention now because the money is all gone. We’re looking around asking where did it all go?

      This political cartoon from 1934 just goes to show how history repeats itself.
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/sns-pod-1934-cartoon-pic,0,7114709.photo

  11. I am rambling today. Oh, well–Rambling Sunday. Added to “overshot the runway,” a new cliche developing…”in the wheelhouse…” Where did that one come from?

  12. The whole debt talks thing is political theater. Right now, 43 cents of every dollar of spending is borrowed. Does anybody really believe that any Congress, much less a divided one, is going to cut spending by 43%? Congress is bought and paid for by the wealthy in this country – both parties – and nothing is going to change until that ends. The wealthiest 1% of Americans own about 43% of the net wealth, and the wealthiest 20% own about 85%. Does anyone believe that they pay 85% of total taxes? Mostly, they pay a smaller percentage of their wealth in taxes than the guy flipping burgers at McDonald’s.