January 28, 2005

MAJORITY RULES:

Cato/Zogby poll: Majority backs individual accounts for Social Security (Cato.org, 1/28/05)

A majority of Americans agree that younger workers should be allowed to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in individual accounts, according to a new poll conducted by Zogby International for the Cato Institute.

Despite a drumbeat of criticism for weeks by congressional Democrats and a concerted public relations campaign by powerful interest groups such as the AARP against Social Security choice, 51 percent of those polled by Zogby support the introduction of individual accounts. Only 39 percent opposed individual accounts being part of any Social Security reform.

Not surprisingly, the results showed a split along age lines, with younger voters (61 percent among those under 30, 58 percent of those under 50) strongly in favor of individual accounts, while those over 65 were opposed (55 percent against). However, opposition by seniors dropped to just 45 percent if they were assured that their own benefits would not be affected.

Reflecting the sharp partisan divide nationally, opinion of individual accounts also split along political lines. Republicans were overwhelmingly united behind the reform proposal, which is a priority of President Bush's second-term agenda (74 percent supporting, 14 percent opposed). Most Democrats remain opposed with 61 percent saying they are against individual accounts. However, a surprisingly strong minority among Democrats (more than 30 percent) favor individual accounts.

Independents polled leaned toward individual accounts, 45 percent to 40 percent, with a high proportion of undecided.


The takeaway, as should be obvious from the last three elections, is that there's no political price to be paid for backing private accounts.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 28, 2005 1:21 PM
Comments

You mean "personal accounts" right?

Posted by: frameone at January 28, 2005 2:20 PM

CATO is the architect of the Bush non-plan and Zogby was dead certain that Kerry would win. Excuse me if I reserve judgement on this issue until further data are presented.

Posted by: jri at January 28, 2005 2:26 PM

jri,
Zogby skews left, so it might be even better than this.

Posted by: Pat H at January 28, 2005 3:09 PM

If you read the link on the CATO website, it is a really very opaque report on the survey. Very little of the wording on questions, etc.

And how about this, "Few voters (5 percent) accepted the argument that Social Security is fine or could be fixed with only "minor, incremental changes" (19 percent)." So I add those two numbers together, and I get 25% of the population that is well enough informed to know that SS can be funded for a long, long time by just requiring incomes up to $120,000 a year to contribute to SS (up from $88,000).

Posted by: CRL at January 28, 2005 3:39 PM

crl: No it can't. That would solve a non-problem and not solve the real problem at all. Remember, it's a pay-as-you-go plan. The current inflow is currently more than the outflow, so the government spends the excess (and issues IOU's to the "SS trust fund").
All raising the tax will do is increase the excess.

Posted by: ray at January 28, 2005 4:24 PM

Ray: How can you speak that way about the sacred trust fund?

Posted by: ed at January 28, 2005 4:35 PM

CRL:

That seems to be the Democrats' strategy--we get 25% the GOP gets 75%.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2005 4:42 PM

ray: If the problem we are trying to solve is the problem of all the IOU's that have been stuffed into the SS Trust Fund, then you are right, my previous suggestion won't solve it.

But, private accounts won't solve that problem either. Only painful tax cuts or painful new taxes.

For example, if all the current excess starts going into private accounts, then there are still those IOU's in the trust fund, and we are still going to have to finance (or eliminate!) the deficit somehow.

Posted by: CRL at January 28, 2005 4:55 PM

Previous post Typo in Caps...

ray: If the problem we are trying to solve is the problem of all the IOU's that have been stuffed into the SS Trust Fund, then you are right, my previous suggestion won't solve it.

But, private accounts won't solve that problem either. Only painful BUDGET cuts or painful new taxes.

It would be nice to see a president with the courage of his convictions to do the unpopular but right in regard to that issue.

For example, if all the current excess starts going into private accounts, then there are still those IOU's in the trust fund, and we are still going to have to finance (or eliminate!) the deficit somehow.

Posted by: CRL at January 28, 2005 5:02 PM

CRL:

It's just debt. We have too little.

Posted by: oj at January 28, 2005 5:07 PM

"Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper! Flip Flopper!" Why do I feel like less than 1% of Americans will understand this debate?

Posted by: at January 30, 2005 9:46 PM
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