New Battleground States Polls Show 7 in 10 Voters Want High Earners to Pay Their Fair Share for Social Security, Not Cut Benefits


For Immediate Release:                                       
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Contacts:     
Don Owens, SSSC
Kim Wright, NCPSSM 
Michael Buckley, ARA
 

New Battleground States Polls Show 7 in 10 Voters Want High Earners to Pay Their Fair Share for Social Security, Not Cut Benefits 

(Washington, DC) — Recent polls released today in five 2012 battleground states show that 7 in 10 likely voters favor requiring employees and employers to pay Social Security taxes on all wages above $106,800 to make Social Security solvent.  Those favoring the taxes on millionaires and billionaires include 77% of Democrats, 65% of Republicans, 68% of Independents, and 65% of Tea Party supporters.  The poll was released as leaders in Washington debate how to reduce the federal deficit and as AARP indicated it could support Social Security benefit cuts to make the program solvent. Social Security’s long-range funding gap can be closed solely by scrapping the payroll tax cap set at $106,800 in 2011, as described in this fact sheet.
 
By margins of 3 to 1, voters across the key states side with the candidate who espouses subjecting all wages above $106,800 to Social Security taxes over the candidate who believes the answer is to cut benefits and raise the retirement age.
 
The polling conducted in Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Missouri, and Virginia found that Social Security is a highly popular program that voters across all political and demographic groups want to protect.  By a margin of 74% to 19% across all party ideology, voters these states oppose cutting Social Security benefits in order to reduce the federal deficit.
 
Additionally, Democratic politicians no longer have the advantage they have traditionally enjoyed on Social Security.  In the five key states likely voters believed Republicans in Congress will handle Social Security better than their Democratic counterparts by a margin of two points, and better than President Obama by a margin of four points.
 
“These findings suggest that AARP and members of Congress should side with the people they represent by demanding no benefit cuts and supporting a plan that closes the Social Security tax loophole that benefits millionaires and billionaires,” said Ed Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “Social Security does not contribute a penny to the deficit, in fact it has a huge surplus. This is money that belongs to all of us who contributed our entire working lives so that we could retire with dignity. Voters want politicians in Washington to keep their hands off Social Security.”
 
“The polling confirms that what many experts believe is the best policy is also the best politics – no benefit cuts; scrap the Social Security tax cap instead,” said Nancy Altman, co-chair of the Strengthen Social Security Campaign. 
 
“This poll shows that voters are clear in their thinking: Don’t cut Social Security benefits, don’t reduce the COLA and don’t raise the retirement age,” said Max Richtman, Acting CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. “They also agree on something else: Congress should raise the Social Security tax cap above $107,000 a year to help extend the solvency of the Social Security Trust Fund.” 
 
“Far from supporting cuts, voters see the cap on Social Security taxes as a tax-loophole that should be closed,” said Pollster Celinda Lake.  “In fact voters are surprised to hear there is a cap since only 6 percent of voters make over the cap. Voters are strongly willing to vote for candidates based on their position on this issue: majorities across party lines, including a majority of tea party supporters say they would be more likely to vote for the candidate that closed this loophole.”
 
Significant findings in the poll include:
Voters were asked: Please tell me if you would favor or oppose gradually requiring employees and employers to pay Social Security taxes on all wages above $106,800, which they do not do now.
Tea Party........65% support requiring employers and employees to pay Social Security taxes on wages above $106,800
Republicans….65% support requiring employers and employees to pay Social Security taxes on wages above $106,800
Independents…68% support requiring employers and employees to pay Social Security taxes on wages above $106,800
Democrats…….77% support requiring employers and employees to pay Social Security taxes on wages above $106,800
TOTALS….......70% SUPPORT requiring employers and employees to pay Social Security taxes on wages above $106,800

  • In an engaged debate, seven in ten voters agree with the candidate who argues that instead of drastic cuts to Social Security, what is needed is closing the loophole to make all wages over $106,800 subject to Social Security payroll taxes. They pick the candidate who makes this argument over the candidate who calls for cutting benefits for solvency’s sake.
  • Three-quarters of voters in the key states oppose cutting Social Security benefits in order to reduce the federal deficit, with two-thirds strongly opposed.

Cutting Social Security benefits to save the deficit:
Tea Party........57% OPPOSE cutting Social Security benefits to save the deficit
Republicans….64% OPPOSE cutting Social Security benefits to save the deficit
Independents…72% OPPOSE cutting Social Security benefits to save the deficit
Democrats…….86% OPPOSE cutting Social Security benefits to save the deficit
TOTALS….......74% OPPOSE cutting Social Security benefits to save the deficit
 
Lake Research Partners designed and administered five statewide surveys, which were conducted by telephone by professional interviewers from March 3-10, 2011. The survey reached likely voters in five states including Colorado (502), Florida (503), Minnesota (584), Missouri (502), and Virginia (603).  Each state’s individual survey may be viewed here.  The margin of error for the combined “total” survey data is +/- 1.9 percentage points. 
 
The poll was paid for by Social Security Works, a national organization that convenes the Strengthen Social Security Campaign, which is comprised of more than 300 national and state organizations representing more than 50 million Americans from many of the nation’s leading aging, labor, disability, women’s, children, consumer, civil rights and equality organizations; the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare Foundation, and the Alliance for Retired Americans.
 
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The Strengthen Social Security Campaign is comprised of 300 national and state organizations representing more than 50 million Americans from many of the nation’s leading aging, labor, disability, women’s, children, consumer, civil rights and equality organizations.

 


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