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Senior Citizen Politics

Putting Senior Citizens Back to Work Popular Way to Help Social Security, Medicare

Even senior citizens like this idea and the idea for increasing eligibility age says Harris Poll

March 9, 2011 Persuading you (senior citizens) to go back to work, or continue to work, is a popular idea with most Americans for making Medicare and Social Security more financially viable, according to a new Harris Poll. But, guess which age group likes this idea the most older people. The public and the seniors also likes the idea of raising the age for joining these programs.

There are sizable differences between the preferences of older and younger generations.  Older people, particularly those who are already senior citizens (65 or older), but also including Baby Boomers, are much more supportive of both encouraging older people to work and increasing the ages of eligibility. Echo Boomers and Gen Xers (all under 46) are less supportive of these options.

 

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Why Social Security Isn't a Problem for 26 Years, and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently

Social Security isn't responsible for federal deficit - just the opposite. Until last year it took in more than it paid out. It lent the surpluses to the government

By Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, Clinton AdministrationFeb. 26, 2011 - New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican presidential hopeful, says in order to "save" Social Security the retirement age should be raised. The media are congratulating him for his putative "courage." Deficit hawks are proclaiming Social Security one of the big entitlements that has to be cut in order to reduce the budget deficit. Read more...


Read more on
> Politics for Senior Citizens
> Medicare
> Medicare Drug Program

 

There is something close to a consensus among economists and political leaders who are willing to discuss the subject that, as large numbers of Baby Boomers become 65 or older, the government will have to modify the Medicare and Social Security programs to make them affordable. Present trends they say are "unsustainable".  

All the possible solutions to this problem that have been discussed are unpalatable to many people, but some are more unpopular than others.  

A new Harris Poll was designed to measure which policies are more or less unpopular, and what the public would prefer if one or more of these policies had to be implemented.

The results show that raising the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare and encouraging more people to work over the age of 65 are the least unpopular policies.  

Raising taxes to pay for the increased costs of these services is more unpopular. Reducing Medicare and Social Security benefits are the most unpopular options.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 3,171 adults surveyed online between February 14 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.  

The main findings of the poll are:

   ● When given five choices and asked what they think should happen over the next five years, the policies chosen by the most people are encouraging more people over 65 to work (40%) and increasing the age of eligibility for Social Security and Medicare (37%);

   ● Far fewer believe that we should increase taxes (27%) to pay for these benefits, while hardly anyone thinks we should reduce either Medicare (11%) or Social Security benefits (11%); and,

   ● When asked which two of the five policy options people would choose if they had to pick two, the numbers increase but the rank order of responses is the same. Encouraging more older people to work (55%) tops the list followed by increasing the age of eligibility (51%).

   ● Increasing taxes (37%) is in the middle of the list with only 10% preferring to reduce either Social Security or Medicare benefits.

Differences by party

There are some substantial differences between the attitudes of people who support different parties. While large numbers of Republicans, Democrats and Independents choose the two least unpopular options working longer and raising the age of eligibility there is (no surprise here) a big difference in their support for increasing taxes. When asked to pick two choices fully 50% of Democrats, but only 21% of Republicans and 38% of Independents choose to raise taxes.

So What?

Even if many informed people think that present cost trends are unsustainable it is far from clear what the government will do to address this issue or when.  Medicare and Social Security are notoriously tough issues to tackle -- the proverbial third rail of politics.  But, as and when the issue is addressed, it seems likely that the two least unpopular options, and possibly some tax increases, will be on the table for discussion.

TABLE 1

WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE TO CONTROL BUDGET DEFICIT?

"Because of the increase in life expectancy, there will be many more old people alive in ten and twenty years time than ever before.  As the number of people over 65 increases substantially, the cost of Social Security and Medicare is likely to increase a lot if we do not change these programs.  Which of the following do you think we should do in the next five years to control the budget deficit?"

Base: All Adults

 

 

Total

Generation

Party I.D.

 

Echo

Boomers

(18-33)

Gen. X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Encourage many more people over 65 to work

40

39

35

37

54

46

38

42

 

Increase the age at which one is eligible for Social Security and Medicare

37

39

24

31

52

41

35

39

 

Increase taxes

27

27

20

28

29

14

39

27

 

Reduce Medicare benefits

11

16

14

8

4

15

7

10

 

Reduce Social Security benefits

11

17

9

7

4

16

6

13

 

None of the above

33

29

43

38

28

32

28

36

 

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 2

WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE TO CONTROL BUDGET DEFICIT? - TREND

"Because of the increase in life expectancy, there will be many more old people alive in ten and twenty years time than ever before.  As the number of people over 65 increases substantially, the cost of Social Security and Medicare is likely to increase a lot if we do not change these programs.  Which of the following do you think we should do in the next five years to control the budget deficit?"

Base: All Adults

 

 

Total Jan 2010

Total

Feb 2011

Change 2010-2011

 

%

%

%

 

Encourage many more people over 65 to work

47

40

-7

 

Increase the age at which one is eligible for Social Security and Medicare

30

37

+7

 

Increase taxes

21

27

+6

 

Reduce Medicare benefits

9

11

+2

 

Reduce Social Security benefits

9

11

+2

 

None of the above

35

33

-2

 

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 3

WHAT WE SHOULD DO IF HAD TO PICK TWO THINGS

"Most economists think that it is inevitable that we will have to do one or more of these things, whether we like it or not.  If you had to pick two that we should do, which two would you pick?"

Base: All Adults

 

 

Total

Generation

Party I.D.

 

Echo

Boomers

(18-33)

Gen. X

(34-45)

Baby

Boomers

(46-64)

Matures

(65+)

Rep.

Dem.

Ind.

 

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

%

 

Encourage many more people over 65 to work

55

45

57

60

66

59

53

58

 

Increase the age at which one is eligible for Social Security and Medicare

51

47

41

48

73

60

49

52

 

Increase taxes

37

33

33

43

36

21

50

38

 

Reduce Social Security benefits

10

17

13

7

3

15

6

10

 

Reduce Medicare benefits

10

14

12

10

3

15

9

8

 

None of the above

14

16

20

13

7

12

11

15

 

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE 4

WHAT WE SHOULD DO IF HAD TO PICK TWO THINGS - TREND

"Most economists think that it is inevitable that we will have to do one or more of these things, whether we like it or not.  If you had to pick two that we should do, which two would you pick?"

Base: All Adults

 

 

Total Jan 2010

Total Feb 2011

Change 2010-2011

 

%

%

%

 

Encourage many more people over 65 to work

61

55

-6

 

Increase the age at which one is eligible for Social Security and Medicare

46

51

+5

 

Increase taxes

31

37

+6

 

Reduce Social Security benefits

10

10

-

 

Reduce Medicare benefits

12

10

-2

 

None of the above

17

14

-3

 

 

 

 

Methodology

This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between February 14 to 21, 2011 among 3,171 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

By Humphrey Taylor, Chairman, The Harris Poll

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European, and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us and our clients stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

RELATED LINKS
http://www.harrisinteractive.com
http://www.youtube.com/user/TheHarrisInteractive
http://twitter.com/harrispoll
http://twitter.com/harrisint
http://www.facebook.com/HarrisPoll
http://www.facebook.com/harrisinteractive?ref=share

 

 

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