Rebuking Austerity, Americans Say: Strengthen Social Security

A new survey shows how vital Americans feel Social Security is. (photo: Molly Theobald via aflcio / Flickr)

Rebuking Austerity, Americans Say: Strengthen Social Security

Survey results show strong support for funding, preserving, increasing benefits to Social Security

While recent proposals from lawmakers and corporate CEO 'extremists' have put Social Security benefits on the chopping block, Americans are coming out in strong support of the vital program. They are saying: Preserve it. Fund it. Strengthen it. Raise our taxes for it.

The results come from a survey (pdf) released Thursday from the nonprofit, nonpartisan National Academy of Social Insurance, and highlight the stark contrast between the support Americans have for the program and the austerity proposed as "a minor tweak" that would cut needed benefits to millions.

Some of the findings from the survey:

  • 82% agree it is critical to preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing Social Security taxes paid by working Americans, and 87% want to preserve Social Security for future generations even if it means increasing taxes paid by wealthier Americans.
  • Nearly 3 in 4 Americans (72%) say they have a favorable view of Social Security, and a favorable view is shared across income brackets and ages
  • 84% believe current Social Security benefits do not provide enough income for retirees
  • 89% said Social Security benefits are more important than ever, and 75% said we should consider raising benefits
  • A trade-off analysis, which looked at different packages, found the highest level of support for a package that eliminated the cap on earnings that are taxed for Social Security, gradually raised the Social Security tax rate workers and employers pay, raised the minimum benefit so that a person could retire at 62 and not be poor, and, in contrast to the "chained CPI" proposals, increased Social Security's cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to more accurately reflect the level of inflation experienced by seniors

"My Republican colleagues in Congress and some Democrats are attempting to use the deficit crisis as an excuse to cut Social Security benefits. That is wrong," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on Thursday at news conference with a coalition of seniors, veterans and labor organizations in support of strong Social Security benefits.

Not only is it "wrong"; the survey results show how it would fly in the face of Americans' wishes.

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