Despite all the talk about cutting the deficit, neither party has wanted to be the first one to put entitlements on the chopping block. A Pew poll released Thursday explains why, as it shows that a robust majority of Americans don’t want the government to rollback benefits for entitlement programs, even if those cuts are made to reduce the deficit.
Six in ten Americans said it was more important to leave Social Security and Medicare benefits untouched than to make cuts as a way to reduce the deficit, roughly twice as many as the 32% who said the opposite.Further, 61% said Medicare recipients already pay enough of their health costs, while 31% said beneficiaries should pay more money into the program.
Those findings come as several reports indicate that the White House may offer cuts to both Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republican concessions on other fronts.
Even Republicans were wary of slicing into those programs, with 47% saying it was more important to preserve Social Security and Medicare, versus 44% who said it was more important to reduce the deficit.
However, one key Republican constituency — those who align themselves with the Tea Party — strongly backed deficit reduction measures over maintaining entitlement benefits. Among self-described Tea Partiers, 57% said reducing the deficit was more important than preserving current entitlement benefits.
In addition, wealthier Republicans were more favorable toward entitlement cuts than less affluent GOPers. Sixty-two percent of Republicans earning under $30,000 per year said preserving entitlement benefits should supercede deficit reduction, versus 33% who said the opposite. Among Republicans earning more than $75,000, 63% said entitlement cuts should be on the table, while 29% said otherwise.
The Pew poll was conducted June 15-19 among 1,502 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.5%.