What these corporate politicians are doing when they say that we need to extend the retirement age has nothing to do with shortfalls and everything to do with maximizing human capital. Collecting retirement takes that pool of money from corporations so they want you in the workforce. Third Way Democrats are leading the way on this. Obama and both Senate and House Democratic leadership voted for these cuts during the debt ceiling debates in the 'grand bargain' and they will do it again after this election. I want to reintroduce what the 'grand bargain' did to entitlements so you know where your incumbent went on this. In Maryland, all Third Way Democrats voted for the cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The debt ceiling threat was a farce as we have gone a year without doing anything about the deficit and nothing has happened. Remember, Democrats have the Constitutional right to ignore the debt ceiling as it is not a Constitutional requirement to cap debt. No one wants the debt to go higher, but we don't want the 95% paying for the entire debt which is what is happening right now. YOUR THIRD WAY DEMOCRAT DOES NOT HAVE TO VOTE AGAINST PROTECTING SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE ......IF THEY VOTE FOR IT....THEY WANTED TO. THEY WILL HAVE US ALL LIVING IN POVERTY!
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!!
Are Social Security and Medicare crucial to your retirement security?
42429 people have answered this question:
Not at all Crucial
11% 3% 3% 5% 5% 73%
THERE IS A PROBLEM WITH DISABILITY ABUSE AND A NEED TO CHECK THE ABUSE. THE PROGRAM IS A NECESSITY TO MOST PEOPLE ELIGIBLE. IT IS TIED TO SOCIAL SECURITY AND AS SUCH NEEDS PROTECTIONS AGAINST FRAUD. OF COURSE THE PEOPLE ABUSING DISABILITY ARE USUSALLY DESPERATE FOR A MEANS TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES WHEN NO JOBS ARE AVAILABLE. SO FIX THIS PROBLEM WITH EMPLOYMENT WITH A LIVING WAGE.
O'Reilly as Paul Revere: The Disabled Are Coming
Posted on 07/06/2012 by Jim Naureckas Fairness and accuracy in Rporting (FAIR)
Bill O'Reilly complained last night (7/5/12) that there are too many disabled people in America:
Twenty years ago in June 1992, there were 3,300,000 Americans receiving federal disability payments. Today, 20 years later, that number is a record 8,733,000 workers on disability.
O'Reilly's not buying it for a second:
Why has the disability rate increased more than 100 percent? I'll tell you why. It's a con. It's easy to put in a bogus disability claim.
And according to O'Reilly, who compares himself to Paul Revere, this is a big sign that that "the country is in steep decline":
More than a 100 percent increase on the taxpayer dime. And that dime is getting a lot smaller.
In 1984, 85 percent of American workers paid federal income tax–85 percent. Now? 51 percent pay federal income tax. A decline of 34 percent. Why? Because of social justice, because the feds are allowing Americans who don't make much money to pay no income tax.
Now you might say, well, that's just fair. But the reality is America doesn't have any money, we're broke. And that is eroding our power in a big way.
One little problem with this analysis: Disability insurance isn't paid for out of income tax–it's covered by Social Security taxes, which all workers pay. (It's actually a regressive tax, since it's not paid on income over $110,000.)
This is the kind of mistake you make when, like O'Reilly, you rely on comic strips to do your research for you:
By the way, I want to thank our pal Bruce Tinsley who writes the Mallard Fillmore cartoon strip for tipping me off to the federal tax number.
P.S. U.S. GDP in 1992 was $8.3 trillion (in 2005 dollars). In 2011, it was $13.3 trillion. The United States is not broke; it's richer than it's ever been.
P.S.S. I do admit to regularly learning things from This Modern World. But Mallard Fillmore is no Sparky the Wonder Penguin.
WE NEED TO TAKE SERIOUSLY THE CORPORATE INTENT IN RIDDING THE US OF ALL ENTITLEMENTS.....AFTER ALL, OUR TAX MONEY IS FOR THEM ONLY! I LISTENED TO A BBC REPORT THE OTHER DAY WITH A FINANCIAL REPORTER LAMBASTING THE UK SOCIAL SYSTEM TELLING ALL YOUTH OF THE UK THAT THE OLD ARE TAKING AWAY THEIR FUTURE WITH THESE PROGRAMS. FORGET THE FACT THAT WE HAVE GAZILLIONAIRES AND A FINANCIAL SYSTEM THAT MAKES THE ITALIAN MAFIA LOOK LIKE SAINTS..........IT'S THE ENTITLEMENTS THAT ARE BRINGING THE COUNTRY DOWN! THE SAME SOFT MESSAGE IS GOING OUT HERE IN THE US AS THEY YOUTH ARE BEING SOLD TO THE IDEA THAT THEIR MONEY WOULD BE BETTER IN THE MARKETS.........REALLY?
PLEASE TAKE TIME TO SAY A GOOD WORD ABOUT SOCIAL SAFETY NETS TO YOUTH IN YOUR NECK OF THE WOODS!
When those who say that individuals are mainly responsible are questioned further about whether the government should be responsible if individuals fall short, most agree that the government should be the ultimate backstop. Substantial majorities across all generations say the government should be mainly or partly responsible for ensuring that retired people have a minimum standard of living.
EVERYONE WILL REMEMBER THE DEBT CEILING DEBATES AND THE PUSH TO EVOKE THE 14TH AMENDMENT. IS WAS A SIMPLE SOLUTION AND USES THE TEA PARTY PASSION FOR THE CONSTITUTION TO BOOT. PROGRESSIVES UNDESTOOD THAT WHEN OBAMA FAILED TO EVOKE THIS 14TH AMENDMENT CLAIM AND INSTEAD WENT WITH THE GRAND BARGAIN WE HAD A PRESIDENT DETERMINED TO SLASH ENTITLEMENTS RATHER THAN ONE WHO WANTED TO MAKE THEM STRONG. WE ARE WATCHING AS AGAIN THIS BECOMES AN ISSUE. ONLY A THIRD WAY DEMOCRAT WOULD FAIL TO USE THIS AS A WAY TO CIRCUMVENT THREATS FROM THE REPUBLICANS! IF YOUR POLITICIAN ISN'T SHOUTING FOR THIS...
VOTE YOUR INCUMBENT OUT!!!!
June 21, 2012
The Debt Ceiling Escape Hatch
By DAVID FIRESTONE New York Times
Nancy Pelosi during her weekly news conference June 21, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Last year, when House Republicans pushed the government to the point of default by threatening not to raise the debt limit, there was a lot of frantic talk about using the Constitution as an escape hatch. Because the 14th Amendment prohibits any action that raises doubt about the public debt, the theory went, President Obama could declare the ceiling unconstitutional and simply ignore the House’s threat.
The idea was endorsed by Bill Clinton and several economic scholars, but it never really caught on among elected Democrats. Mr. Obama expressed skepticism about it, and Democratic leaders – who lack the confrontational DNA of their Republican counterparts – decided not to push it.
But now that Speaker John Boehner is promising a rerun of the whole fiasco within the next year, the Constitutional option is starting to have a little more appeal. On Wednesday, in a meeting with a group of columnists, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, urged the president to use the 14th Amendment to protect the nation’s credit from another extortion attempt.
“You cannot put the country through the uncertainty” again, she said, according to Matthew Yglesias of Slate.
Ms. Pelosi’s statement is an encouraging sign that Democrats may take a very different approach when Mr. Boehner reloads later this year or early next, whenever the current debt limit is reached. Led by Mr. Obama at his most naïve, the Democratic reaction to last year’s extortion was to negotiate, to seek a grand bargain that inevitably disintegrated when Republicans refused to raise taxes on the rich.
What they got instead was a brutal sequester of military and domestic spending--
parts of which are loathed by virtually everyone in Washington—that threatens to derail the economy when it begins next January. The crisis deeply damaged the country’s financial reputation, produced a downgrade in its credit rating, and led to single-digit approval ratings of Congress.
Ms. Pelosi obviously doesn’t want to go through that again, and it’s hard to imagine why Mr. Obama would, assuming he is re-elected. If other Democrats begin pushing the idea that the debt limit is unconstitutional, it might stiffen the president’s spine to use the option, particularly now that Republicans have stated they will never again raise the limit without getting huge spending cuts in return.
It’s not as if he’d be ending a hallowed American tradition. The debt limit was always a fraud on the public, providing the illusion of a firm outside boundary to government borrowing when none was ever needed. Congress controls spending and taxes, and can raise or lower the debt as easily as it regularly used to increase the debt limit. A terrific 1961 editorial in the Times chided President Kennedy for not trying to repeal this “meaningless” statute.
Using the 14th Amendment option would lead to a messy fight, and the legal outcome is far from clear. But it’s a fight worth having, because the alternative, as the country has seen, will be far worse
EVERYBODY CONCERNED WITH THE FUTURE OF THEIR ENTITLEMENTS AND SOCIAL SECURITY MUST BE AWARE OF THE DISTINCTIONS YOUR DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS ARE MAKING IN THESE TERMS: UNFUNDED LIABILITY AND COMMON DEBT. AGAIN, A SHAREHOLDER WHO BUYS A GOVERNMENT BOND IS PROTECTED AND HAS RIGHTS THAT THE PUBLIC WHO ENTERED A SOCIAL/CONTRACTUAL AGREEMENT TO LIMIT WAGES IN EXCHANGE FOR RETIREMENT AND BENEFITS. YOU AND I AGREED TO A LOWER WAGE SCALE BECAUSE WE WERE ASSURED A FUTURE BENEFIT THAT WOULD PROTECT US AS SENIORS. ONE OF THE MAJOR REASONS THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS NOW TELLING US THAT THE FUNDS ARE NOT THERE NOW IS THAT WE HAVE GONE THROUGH A FEW DECADES WHERE THE GOVERNMENT ALLOWED A LEVEL OF CRIMINALITY AND CORRUPTION THAT LED TO THE GUTTING OF THE PUBLIC COFFERS...........CLEARLY A FAILURE OF GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT ITS CITIZENS. THE GOVERNMENT IS NOW BOUND TO SEEK AND RECOVER THESE PUBLIC FUNDS LOST BY FRAUD, THEFT, AND WASTE BEFORE ANY ASSESSMENT OF ABILITY TO PAY SAID BENEFITS CAN BE MADE.
I WOULD SUGGEST THAT ALL THESE THINK TANKS AND GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY AGENCIES NEED TO STATE THAT LOUDLY AND STRONGLY. WE ARE NOT HEARING THIS COMMITMENT FROM OUR DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS ------ WE ARE BEING TOLD THAT OUR SOCIAL CONTRACT DOES NOT STAND AGAINST MASSIVE FRAUD AND CORRUPTION.
Tampa Bay Times PolitiFact
IT'S IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND WHY THESE POLITICIANS SEEM TO BE ABLE TO GO IN AND CHANGE OUR BENEFITS TO OUR DETRIMENT. THEY ARE NOT LEGALLY OWED LIKE TREASURY BONDS.......BUT THEY SHOULD BE. THIS IS WHY THEY COME IN AND LOWER COST OF LIVING INCREASES (COLA) AND CREATE CO-PAY SITUATIONS THAT MAKE THIS RETIREMENT BENEFIT AND MEDICARE TOO LOW TO SUPPORT YOU IN OLD AGE. OUR RETIREMENTS ARE JUST AS CONTACTUAL AS BUYING A GOVERNMENT BOND......PROMISES AND OBLIGATIONS WILL NOT DO!!!
WE REMEMBER THAT PUBLIC SECTOR PENSIONS ARE UNFUNDED LIABILITIES THAT ARE NOW BEING SLASHED.....
AND ALL ARE VICTIMS OF LOSSES BY FRAUD.....GET THAT MONEY BACK BEFORE CUTTING BENEFITS!
Defining an unfunded liability
Our main concern with Romney’s statement is that it counts obligations to be paid in the future as debt for today’s families. This might sound reasonable, but thinking of debt this way presents some tricky issues. What Romney did was take the amount predicted that we will owe over the next 75 years for Social Security and Medicare, subtracted what we will take in to fund them, and then divided that sum by the current total of households.
Technically, though, shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare aren’t unfunded liabilities, said J.D. Foster, an economist with the right-leaning Heritage Foundation. "Legally, they are not liabilities. They can be referred to accurately as promises or obligations." (He spoke with our sister site PolitiFact Virginia last year on the same topic.)
Foster said the benefits do not qualify as liabilities because Congress can change the terms of Medicare and Social Security at any time.
Foster told us in an email for this article that Romney’s calculation is valid. However, the figures for unfunded promises differ from common debt.
Gary Burtless, an economist with the centrist Brookings Institution, also pointed out that future benefits for entitlements are not "owed" to seniors in the same way that the public debt is owed to the people and institutions who purchased U.S. government debt.
"Congress can and almost certainly will reduce the future benefits promised to people who will receive Medicare and Social Security in the future," Burtless said via email. "Moreover, even if Congress does NOT act before the Trust Funds are depleted, under current law Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries would receive less than the amount of benefits provided to current beneficiaries. "Why? Because the Secretary of the Treasury can only pay for those benefits out of the Trust Funds, and if the Trust Funds are depleted of cash, the rate of spending out of it will be limited to rate at which the Trust Funds are replenished with tax revenues flowing in under the current tax schedule."
Michael Linden, of the liberal Center for American Progress, said it’s silly to divide our current debt by the number of households because no one suggests that we equally apportion the debt and pay it all off tomorrow.
"How does it make sense to apply potential debt borrowed in 2085 to families today?" he asked.
Linden also said that while it’s true that revenues for Social Security and Medicare are projected to fall short of meeting needs over the next several decades, the U.S. will also face the obligation to pay for trillions of dollars on defense over the next 75 years.
"That’s because the real worry is not the gap between spending and revenue in any given program (even those that are supposed to have dedicated revenue streams), but the gap between overall spending and overall revenues," Linden said via email. "So my bottom line is that, while Mitt Romney’s math may be right, his implication is wrong, and his number is devoid of any actual meaning."
Still, Romney’s underlying point that there is a fiscal imbalance is sound.
Alan Auerbach, an economist at Berkeley and research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, said that by the numbers, Romney’s calculation is pretty much on target based on the government’s own projections. Auerbach said he has done similar calculations.
"I would and do call these unfunded liabilities," he wrote in an email. "They differ from our explicit national debt liabilities in that we can reduce them by undertaking policy reforms, but under current policy they are indeed unfunded commitments. That is, they are obligations in excess of their dedicated funding sources (payroll taxes, premiums paid by Medicare enrollees, etc.)."
THIS IS AN ACTION FROM EARLIER THIS YEAR. WE SEE ALL OUR DEMOCRATIC LEADERS LINING UP FOR CUTS IN BOTH SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. WE MUST SHOUT LOUDLY AGAINST THIS AND
VOTE OUT OUR INCUMBENTS!!!
WE CAN REVERSE THIS IF THEY DO MAKE THE CUTS, BUT WE WILL NEED REAL PROGRESSIVES IN OFFICE.
Tell Nancy Pelosi: Draw a line in the sand on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits We need to speak out now to stop House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi from agreeing to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Recently, Leader Pelosi expressed support for the Bowles-Simpson plan that would have slashed Social Security benefits - a plan that when it came out she rightly deemed "simply unacceptable." 1
And the Washington Post reported that last year she agreed to a "grand bargain" President Obama negotiated with John Boehner that would have slashed benefits not just for Social Security, but for Medicare and Medicaid too. 2
We've learned from past battles that preemptive concessions by Democrats can lead to disastrous outcomes.
That is why we're joining with former Senator Russ Feingold and Progressives United, the group he started, to help get Nancy Pelosi back on track.
Tell Nancy Pelosi: Draw a line in the sand on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
For years, Republicans in Congress have waged a crusade to end these programs, either by privatizing them or simply defunding them. And sadly, far too many Democrats have bought into the rightwing propaganda.
The fact of the matter is that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are three of America's most successful social programs, and are especially critical to poor and working families, seniors and the disabled. These vital programs also enjoy strong support virtually everywhere except Washington, D.C.
With President Obama and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer on the record in favor of benefit cuts, it's crucial that Nancy Pelosi, the most progressive member of the Democratic Leadership, stand strong and draw a line in the sand on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
Furthermore, there's no reason for Democrats to be playing defense on these issues.
These programs continue to exist because Democrats have vocally defended them. And that strategy has worked, time and again.
Nancy Pelosi has previously played a critical role in stopping benefit cuts. We hope she will do so again.
Tell Nancy Pelosi: Draw a line in the sand on cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
1. "Nancy Pelosi Says She'd Back Simpson-Bowles Plan ," The Huffington Post, 04-27-12.
2. "Obama's Evolution: Behind the Failed 'Grand Bargain' on the Debt," Washington Post, 03-17-12.
Here is a great solution to what we all know is a great problem.....as the middle/lower class has less access to healthcare our overall longevity will fall as the rich live longer. RETIREMENT AGE SHOULD REFLECT LONGEVITY....THE HIGHER THE INCOME THE LONGER THE LIFE.
May 20, 2012, 9:51 pm
Entitlement Reform For the Entitled
By EZEKIEL J. EMANUELPhiladelphia New York Times
IF nothing is done about entitlement spending, and if our current tax breaks continue, then by 2025, tax revenue will be able to pay for Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, interest on the debt and nothing else. The rest — defense, medical research, highways, education, energy — will have to be financed by deficits. Social Security’s funding is predicted to run short in 2033, Medicare’s trust fund in 2024.
Like much else in Washington, there is little bipartisan agreement on what to do about it. When it comes to Social Security and Medicare, Republicans emphasize cuts and privatization, while Democrats strongly oppose both approaches. Neither side was able to embrace the 2010 bipartisan Simpson-Bowles plan, which proposed lowering Social Security’s cost-of-living adjustments, increasing the taxable maximum income and raising the eligibility age to 69 by 2075.
But here is a better bipartisan reform: Graduated eligibility. Instead of having a fixed age at which people can get Social Security and Medicare, we should link the age of eligibility to lifetime wealth. The richer you are, the older you would have to be to be eligible for Social Security and Medicare.
Here’s how it would work. People in the bottom half of the lifetime earnings distribution would become eligible for normal retirement benefits at age 65 for Medicare and 66 for Social Security, just as they are today. But people in the next quarter of the lifetime earnings distribution would become eligible for the respective programs at 67 and 68, and those in the top quarter would become eligible at 70 and 71. All eligibility ages would increase over time, as they are scheduled to now.
In all income brackets, those choosing to retire later than the standard age would still receive higher Social Security benefits, called delayed-retirement credits. For those choosing to retire earlier and accept reduced benefits, on the other hand, nothing would change in the lower bracket, while the minimum age would increase in the two higher income brackets. And wealthier older people would have the choice of buying into Medicare at age 65, though they would have to pay for it before the age of 70.
Demographic changes since Social Security was first enacted are a good argument for raising the retirement age. In 1935, a man who reached the age of 65 was likely to live almost 13 more years (and a woman, almost 15). But today, Americans who reach 65 are likely to live nearly 19 more years.
But graduated eligibility also accounts for the fact that the rich live longer than the poor, and that the longevity gap is increasing. In 2007, the Social Security Administration did a study of mortality and income. Among 65-year-old men born in 1922, those with income in the top half lived an average of 2.2 years longer than those in the bottom half. But among 65-year-old men born in 1941, those with income in the top half were projected to live an average of 5.3 years longer. Thus, requiring wealthier Americans to wait five more years to claim Social Security and Medicare has the effect of giving an average rich and an average poor person nearly the same number of years of benefits.
This reform also combines several important values. The main reason Social Security and Medicare have such strong public support is that they are universal benefits; they are not just for the poor. With graduated eligibility, all Americans will still get benefits, regardless of income; the only thing that changes is when. And because the rich, on average, would live longer and get the same number of years of benefits as those in lower income brackets, the plan should appeal to those who still feel strongly that everyone should pay their fair share.
It also makes practical sense. Americans in the bottom half of the income distribution are more likely to have jobs in manual labor, which is more physically difficult for older people to perform. White-collar workers in the upper bracket don’t face the same physical demands. And their greater earnings mean they should be able to save more to support themselves longer.
Graduated eligibility should be based on lifetime earnings instead of any particular year’s income, which can be quite volatile. It would be administratively simple to determine each citizen’s lifetime earnings, because the Social Security Administration already has all this data. And this measure would have the benefit of encouraging personal responsibility; people making more than the median income would have an incentive to save. Anyone who earned a lot at one time but frittered it away would have to continue working longer.
Either in the lame duck Congressional session after the election or in 2013, there will surely be debate about a deal to address taxes and the deficit. Graduated eligibility should be on the table. It would not completely close the shortfall of the trust funds, but it would put Social Security and Medicare on a stronger financial footing, while reaffirming their universal nature and reflecting the fortunate fact that Americans are living longer.
THE YOUNGER GENERATIONS ARE GETTING BOMBARDED WITH PROPAGANDA MAKING THEM THINK THAT THEIR RETIREMENT MONEY IN THE STOCK MARKET IS A BETTER BET THAN SOCIAL SECURITY. WE ALL KNOW THE CRIMINALITY OF THE MARKET AND THE FACT THAT ANY OF THESE INVESTMENTS WOULDN'T LAST. WE HAVE A HARD ENOUGH TIME KEEPING SOCIAL SECURITY SAFE FROM POLITICAL RAIDS. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO EDUCATE THE YOUNGER ADULTS ABOUT THE FAILURES BEING NOT IN THE PROGRAMS BUT IN THE POLITICIANS KEEPING THEM SAFE.......THE JUSTICE SYSTEM.
Released: November 3, 2011 Pew Research Center
The Generation Gap and the 2012 Election
Section 6: Generations and Entitlements
The policy debates over Social Security and Medicare are potentially cross-cutting issues for older generations. Silents, as well as many Boomers, place a high priority on these issues politically and are generally more resistant to major changes or reforms than are younger Americans. As a result, while Silents favor the GOP by wide margins on jobs and the budget deficit, they are as likely to prefer the Democrats when it comes to Social Security. Silent and Baby Boom generation voters who are the most dependent on Social Security, and those who say it is an important issue to their vote, back Obama over Romney by significant margins.
While there are sharp generational differences over entitlement policies and the importance of the issue, there is little evidence of generational resentment or friction over what government provides for seniors. Millennial voters are just as likely as Xers, Boomers and Seniors to say the government does too little, not too much, to support seniors, and young and old alike are more concerned that the programs will run out of money for benefits than about the burden maintaining current benefit levels puts on younger people.
Impressions of Social Security and Medicare When it comes to the two core entitlement programs serving seniors in America – Social Security and Medicare – there is broad consensus regarding their value to the nation as well as the precariousness of their finances.
Nearly nine-in-ten Americans say each of these programs has been good for the country over the years, and this includes at least eight-in-ten across all generations young and old. Similarly, roughly three quarters say these programs are in only fair or poor shape financially, and this view crosses generational lines as well.
Where the generations differ is in their evaluations of the current effectiveness of these programs. Only members of the Silent generation – the vast majority of whom receive Social Security and Medicare – say these programs do a good job of serving the people they cover. Majorities of Millennials, Generation Xers, and Boomers say the programs do only a fair or poor job.
The younger generations are more supportive of seeing the programs overhauled. Most Millennials (56%) and Gen Xers (66%) say Social Security needs major changes or a complete overhaul. By contrast, most in the Silent generation (62%) say the system works pretty well and needs only minor changes. Boomers, many of whom are on the cusp of receiving Social Security themselves, are more divided – 45% say they think only minor changes are in order, while 50% say major changes need to be made.
Entitlement Policy Proposals In keeping with their support for major changes, the vast majority of Millennials back proposals that involve some degree of privatization of Social Security and Medicare.
Fully 86% of Millennials support changing the system so younger workers can invest their Social Security taxes in private retirement accounts. And 74% of Millennials favor changing Medicare so future participants can use the benefit toward purchasing private health insurance. Support for both of these ideas drops off among older generations and they garner a decidedly mixed reaction from those in the Silent generation.
When it comes to proposals to gradually raise the eligibility age for these programs, there is substantially more support from those who are mostly retired than from those who are not. About half in the Silent generation favor gradually raising the Social Security retirement age and the Medicare eligibility age. Majorities across all younger generations oppose these ideas.
A third area of proposed entitlement changes – means-testing benefits to reduce what high income seniors receive – divide the country, but not along generational lines. About half (53%) of Americans favor reducing Social Security benefits for seniors with higher incomes as a way to address financial problems with the system, and there is no difference in levels of support across generational lines. Similarly, 55% of the public, including nearly identical percentages across generations, favor reducing Medicare benefits for higher-income seniors.
The Tradeoffs: Priority on Maintaining Entitlement Benefits Generally, the public is resistant to any cuts in entitlement benefits in order to reduce the budget deficit or reduce the tax burden. By 58% to 35%, most say keeping entitlement benefits as they are is more important than reducing the budget deficit. And by an almost identical 59% to 32% margin, more say that higher priority should be placed on avoiding future Social Security benefit cuts than on avoiding any Social Security tax increases for workers and employers.
Resistance to benefit cuts increases across generations, with both Boomers and Silents siding with preserving entitlement benefits by at least two-to-one. By contrast, Millennials are more divided on both of these questions.
Dependence on Social Security One factor strongly related to attitudes about entitlements is people’s reliance – or expected reliance – on these programs. A majority of retired adults (56%) say that Social Security is their main source of income. But among those who are not yet retired, two-thirds (65%) say Social Security will not be their main source of income in retirement, while only a 32% minority say that it will. When probed further, nearly a third (31%) of non-retired adults think they will end up getting no money from Social Security in their retirement.
Not surprisingly, experiences with and expectations about Social Security vary significantly across generations. Among those in the Silent generation – 84% of whom are retired – 58% cite Social Security as their main source of retirement income. Among these, 28% say it is (or will be) their only source of income in retirement, while 30% have other sources to supplement Social Security.
Millennials, currently ages 18 to 30, have starkly different expectations. More than seven-in-ten (72%) Millennials do not expect Social Security to be their main source of retirement income. In fact, 42% of Millennials think they will get no retirement income from Social Security at all, as do 35% of Generation Xers (currently ages 31 to 46).
While around one-in-five Baby Boomers (22%) say they are already retired, most are not, and their expectations about Social Security are mixed. Fewer than half (42%) of Boomers say that Social Security is or will be their main source of income in retirement, with about a quarter (24%) saying it is or will be their only source of income. A majority (56%) says they will have other sources of income that are more important during retirement, though most of these (35% of all Boomers) say they expect to get at least some income from Social Security to supplement their other sources.
People’s dependence, or expected dependence, on Social Security has a significant effect on their attitudes about Social Security policy. In particular, those who say Social Security is or will be their main source of income in retirement overwhelmingly favor maintaining entitlement benefits over deficit reduction as the bigger policy priority. This is particularly true among those in the Silent generation, who have mostly retired already, but also true among Boomers and younger people as well.
Similarly, those who are counting on Social Security as their own primary income source are far more opposed to raising the retirement age for Social Security eligibility. The link between personal need and views on this issue is notably strong among Baby Boomers. Boomers who say Social Security is or will be their main source of income oppose raising the retirement age by more than two-to-one (69% oppose, 29% favor) while Boomers who say other sources of income will be more important are divided (52% oppose, 47% favor).
Social Security Matters More to Older Voters Social Security trails well behind the job situation, the budget deficit, and health care as key voting issues in 2012. But it is clearly among the top issues for older voters – 45% of Silent generation voters cite Social Security as the most important (25%) or second most important (20%) issue to their vote – rivaling the 52% who say jobs, and slightly more than the percentages citing the budget deficit (39%) or health care (38%) as a top voting issue.
Among Baby Boomers, the job situation outranks Social Security as a top voting issue by two-to-one (66% to 33%), and the gap is even wider among Millennials and Generation Xers.
Financial reliance on Social Security is strongly linked to the importance of the issue to voters. Within the Silent generation, 59% of those who get most of their income from Social Security say it is a top voting issue, compared with just 29% of those who say it is not a main source.
The difference is nearly as large among Boomers – 48% of those who receive or expect to receive most of their retirement income from Social Security rate it as a top voting issue, compared with 23% of Boomers who get most of their income elsewhere.
Social Security and Voting Preferences Not only is Social Security a higher priority for Silent voters, it is a significantly bigger factor shaping voting preferences among Silents than among younger generations. Among all Silents, Mitt Romney holds a 13-point lead (54% to 41%) over Barack Obama. But among the half of Silent voters who rate Social Security as their first or second most important issue, Obama leads by 10 points (51% vs. 41%). Silent generation voters who do not prioritize Social Security favor Romney by two-to-one (64% to 32%).
The gap is somewhat narrower among Boomers: Those who say Social Security is important to their vote favor Obama by 10 points, while Boomers who do not favor Romney by 13 points. Because just a third of Boomers cite Social Security as a top voting issue, Romney holds a modest six-point lead (51% to 45%) among all voters in this cohort.
These gaps reflect the fact that those who prioritize Social Security tend to favor keeping the program unchanged, and tend to be more reliant on the programs, meaning they are typically from lower income households.
Future Concerns about Entitlements Across generations, there is broad agreement that the entitlement programs are not on sound financial footing. And there is considerable concern – again, among young and old alike – that in the future there may not be enough money to provide Social Security and Medicare benefits at their current levels.
By contrast, the possibility that keeping these benefits at their current levels may put too much of a financial burden on younger generations is less of a concern – even among young generations themselves.
Majorities of Gen Xers (70%) and Millennials (57%) say they are very concerned that financial shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare may lead to reduced benefits. Fewer Gen Xers (45%) and Millennials (41%) are very concerned that maintaining current benefits may excessively burden young people.
In this regard, Gen Xers and Millennials are in synch with Boomers and Silents; among both groups, more are very concerned about possible benefit reductions than by the possibility than keeping benefits at current levels may place too much burden on younger generations.
Few Think Government Does Too Much for Seniors Majorities of the public say the federal government does not do enough for older people (60%), the middle class (58%), poor people (57%) and children (57%). On the other hand, nearly two thirds (64%) say the government does too much for wealthy people.
More than half of each generation agrees that the government does not do enough for older people, including 64% among Baby Boomers and those in Generation X. The numbers saying this are slightly lower among the youngest and the oldest generations: 55% of Millennials and 52% of Silents say the government does not do enough for the elderly.
Notably, majorities of Democrats (69%), Republicans (52%) and independents (56%) say the federal government does not do enough for older people.
In addition to their agreement that the government does too little for the elderly, the youngest and the oldest generations both say the government does too much for the wealthy (62% and 63%, respectively). Similar majorities of Gen Xers (66%) and Baby Boomers (68%) say this as well. Substantial majorities of Democrats (76%) and independents (66%) say the government does too much for the wealthy; only about half of Republicans (49%) agree.
The Silent generation is least likely to say the government does not do enough for children. Just more than four-in-ten (44%) say this, compared with 64% of Gen Xers, 59% of Baby Boomers and 57% of Millennials.
On the other hand, the youngest generation is most likely to say that the government does not do enough for the poor: 62% of Millennials express this view, compared with 53% of the Silent generation. Nearly six-in-ten Boomers agree (57%), as well as 54% of those in Gen X.
Looking Out for Older People The public is divided over whether the government or individuals and their families should be mainly responsible for making sure that retired older adults have at least a minimum standard of living. The differences among generations on this question are relatively small.
Looking at the public as a whole, about four-in-ten (43%) say the government is mainly responsible for ensuring at least a minimal standard of living for older people, while 40% say individuals and their families are mostly responsible. More than one-in-ten (14%) volunteer that both are equally responsible.
Millennials and Boomers are nearly evenly divided. The balance among Gen Xers tilts toward the government (47% vs. 34%), while the Silents tilt slightly more toward individual responsibility (44% vs. 36%).
On this question, the divides are greater across income levels than the generations. Among those with household incomes of $75,000 or more, 51% say individuals should be mainly responsible for making sure older adults getting a basic level of care, while 33% say the government should be. The numbers are reversed among those with household incomes of less than $30,000 (53% say the government should be mainly responsible, 29% say individuals and their families.) Those with incomes between $30,000 and $74,999 are evenly divided (42% each).