What Happens When Americans Find Out That Social Security is Not In Trouble

Filed in National by on February 1, 2013

Today’s WONKBLOG has a great bit of reporting on a new survey from a group called the National Academy of Social Insurance, which conducted a survey of Americans and found that most Americans want to fix the long-term shortfall by raising the cap on contributions and they want to increase the benefits. Shockingly, Americans come to this conclusion once they learn (via this survey) that Social Security is not in immediate crisis. Which it isn’t.

The survey found that most major benefit cuts — including chained CPI, means testing and raising the full retirement age to 70 — strongly decreased respondents’ likelihood of supporting a deal. By contrast, revenue-raisers, such as increasing the payroll tax rate or eliminating the cap, elicited strong support and made respondents significantly more likely to support a deal. More mild measures, like raising the payroll tax cap to include 90 percent of wages, and raising the retirement age to 68, elicited mild support. The only benefit changes that people really liked were benefit increases. The following chart shows what the raw numbers looked like.

Interesting, yes? But for those of us who have been following the Social Security numbers and issues, this isn’t much of a surprise. The crisis is largely a manufactured one by DC and Wall Street interests whose views are apparently the only ones who count here. (Yep, I’m lookin’ at you, John Carney and Tom Carper.) The crisis narrative has been the only one you hear — in spite of clear evidence to the contrary that comes from the yearly Social Security Actuaries’ report. But the NASI survey looks at this narrative too:

Which is why we need to constantly remind folks that the people who keep claiming that Social Security is in crisis are not telling you the truth.


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"You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas." -Shirley Chisholm

Comments (14)

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  1. Jason330 says:

    Suck it Concord Coalition.

  2. puck says:

    Social Security is the only healthy revenue stream left to fund the (continuing) tax cuts on the rich. Of course the wealthy are trying to tap it.

  3. pandora says:

    People eager to cut safety nets created a new word: socialsecuritymedicaremedicaid. To create maximum confusion never separate this new word.

  4. AGovernor says:

    The results are interesting because since the year began I have heard a lot of crying about paycheck being smaller and Obama raising the taxes that made them smaller. All that really happened is we went back to paying the amount we used to pay to fund Social Security. The hue and cry don’t seem to jive with a willingness to increase the cap or pay more “payroll tax” to ensure Social Security benefits.

  5. puck says:

    When the temporary payroll tax cuts expired for wage-earners, they were repealed mercilessly. But when the temporary dividend tax cuts expired after twelve years, they were extended permanently. Go figure.

  6. Jason330 says:

    The temporary payroll tax cut was a stupid stimulus measure. Good riddance.

  7. Andy says:

    Comment by Jason330 on 1 February 2013 at 4:19 pm:

    The temporary payroll tax cut was a stupid stimulus measure. Good riddance.


  8. puck says:

    The 12-year dividend tax cut was also a stupid stimulus measure. Something about job creators, wasn’t it? It went away for three days but it came back like herpes.

  9. cassandra_m says:

    The Bush era dividend tax cut was not meant to be a stimulus measure — he wanted dividend taxes to go to zero. What he got was a qualified dividend tax rate of a max of 15%. Later, Congress made sure that the dividend rate cut would not expire until 2010 and then reduced the dividend taxes on lower income brackets to 0%. Those dividend taxes are now 20% on upper income people. That is hardly extended mercilessly.

    The payroll tax holiday had 3 big problems: 1) It didn’t help the long run shortfall for Social Security; 2) people didn’t really know they had it, until 3) it actually sunsetted on time. That is hardly repealed mercilessly.

  10. puck says:

    The Bush era dividend tax cut was not meant to be a stimulus measure

    The law was named the “Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act.” Case closed.

    LOL… you are so committed to being contrary on this issue that you are defending a supply-side Bush tax cut (now wholly owned by Democrats). 15%, 20%, whatever. It’s still a whopping cut from 39.6%; a cut that was entirely unnecessary. How’s that “Jobs and Growth” thing working out?

    It means Obama/Biden are now signed up with supply side economics. The expiration game is over and we’re not going to get that tax back again in our lifetimes.

    Now just pick up any rock and you can find another Democratic Senator who wants to cut Social Security and Medicare to pay for Joe Biden’s extension of this tax cut for the rich. This is why I laugh when Democrats pretend to insist on “revenue.” We had this revenue in our hands on Jan. 1 and handed it back.

    Payroll tax – do you know how the payroll tax cut worked? It didn’t damage Social Security – it damaged the Treasury, which was picking up the employee contribution (employer contribution was never cut). I agree it needed to expire, but in return we need a guarantee Social Security benefits won’t be cut.

  11. cassandra_m says:

    In which we find puck buying at face value the Luntz-era false flagging of legislation. For his next trick, he’ll be telling us about the evils of the Death Tax:

    The law was named the “Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act.” Case closed.

    Tax “relief” was the point of that law, and further it was a way to legislate more of the false Laffer curve bullshit.

    But hey, you clearly don’t even know what “supply side” means if you think I’m defending it. Which we can add to everything else you don’t know about how the economy works. I get that you are pretty perpetually embarrassed about having your ass handed to you routinely on this subject. You can fix that by actually figuring out how this works. Or — even better — you can revisit our last conversation and provide me with the mechanism/explanation I can use with my management ti hire more people since they are paying more taxes.

    No? Well, the person who is completely down with supply side principles is your Governor, who persists in handing out money for people to hire folks they were planning to hire anyway.

  12. puck says:

    Nothing could be more embarrassing than defending Democrats signing on to the largest (ratewise) of Bush’s failed tax cuts for the rich.

  13. cassandra_m says:

    Nothing could be more embarrassing than not noticing that a good portion of the Bush tax cuts has been rolled back, you mean.

    Or maybe, nothing could be more embarrassing than not paying attention to a President who told you that he wasn’t behind going back to the Clinton tax rates.

    Or how about this — nothing could be more embarrassing that being reminded that and tax rate increase at this point is about deficit/debt reduction, not about your anti-Laffer curve idiocy.

  14. Truth Teller says:

    Remove the cap and you can lower the rate this would not only help employees but the employers also