Americans Reject ‘Grand Bargain’ Cuts to Social Security and Medicare

By Kenneth Quinnell for AFL-CIO Blog

Reflecting what voters said in AFL-CIO’s election-night poll, a poll conducted on behalf of Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) shows that voters strongly reject proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare. When asked which was more important, 70% of respondents said that protecting education, Medicare and Social Security was more important than broad cuts to reduce the deficit. More than half—58%—of the overall sample said that they felt strongly about opposing such cuts. Only 17% of the survey said they felt strongly that across-the-board cuts were important enough to cut the popular programs.

More than half of respondents also said that any plan to address the deficit should start with raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, not by reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits.

The survey also asked voters about specific components of the plan proposed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, leaders of a bipartisan commission on reducing the deficit. Specifically, the majority of voters rejected:

  • Capping Medicare payments, forcing seniors to pay more (79%).
  • Requiring deep cuts in domestic programs without protecting programs for infants, poor children, schools and college aid (75%).
  • Cutting discretionary spending, like education, child nutrition, worker training and disease control (72%).
  • Cutting taxes for the rich and corporations (67%).
  • Continuing to tax investors’ income at lower rates than workers’ pay (63%).
  • Reducing Social Security benefits over time by having them rise more slowly than the cost of living (62%).

Survey respondents also showed that they wanted the deficit reduced by methods other than cutting Social Security and Medicare: 

  • 69% said that they favored shutting down tax havens abroad by putting a minimum tax on corporate profits reported overseas.
  • 89% said they favored reducing Medicare costs by negotiating lower drug prices from drug companies. 
  • 79% oppose capping Medicare payments, forcing seniors to pay more.
  • 72% favor cutting military spending by ending the war in Afghanistan.
  • 65% want to cut subsidies to oil companies, agribusiness and multinational corporations.
  • 72% oppose cutting education, child nutrition, worker training and disease control.
  • 75% say it is acceptable for a deficit reduction deal to create a higher tax rate on those earning more than one million dollars a year.

The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on behalf of Democracy Corps and CAF. Surveyed were 1,000 2012 presidential voters on Nov.6-7, after the election. The poll was weighted to reflect the National Exit Survey and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.


  1. Beatrice Kreloff on November 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I support everything that is in this petition /newsletter. Mostly a single payer plan for all Americans including all immigrants.

    • Denise Libien on November 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

      I absolutely agree. This country needs a single payer health care system NOW. Not in 2014 when the “exchanges” will take effect. The private insurance companies certainly don’t need yet another year to suck the American public dry. Most of us are just struggling to put food on our table and even educated, trained people can’t find full time work because nobody wants to pay benefits. It is morally wrong what is going on in this country. We, the tax payers of this country, need to demand our right to health care and march on Washington.

  2. Lorin Jones on November 20, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I am very grateful for what Healthcare Now is trying to do in bringing about the proper kind of healthcare reform. I just recently spent several weeks working for the Obama campaign before this last Presidential election. Yesterday I got a survey from his campaign manager, asking for my opinion about where the country needs to go.
    I didn’t hold back. I told them that although I supported the President, I still believe the Democratic Party is mediocre at best and the lesser of two evils. I told them that I wanted to see the thieves of Wall Street brought to justice, but amazingly that has barely happened at all. I wondered if the lack of prosecutions might have something to do with the huge donations that Goldman Sachs gave to Obama when he was trying to get elected in 2008. I also wondered if it had to do with Obama appointing Wall Street insiders like Tim Geitner and Larry Summers to his staff which I believed to be an affront to hard working Americans. And most of all I chastised the party for not letting Single Payer Advocates have a seat at the table when healthcare reform was being discussed. I was more than disgusted by the actions of the Obama Administration and the Democrats when they basically bowed down to healthcare insurance companies. I also told the Democratic Campaign that I will never again vote Republican, and may never vote Democratic either unless the Democrats have the guts to do what is right and protect the working class and poor and make the rich pay their fair share.

    I also told them that if they do not move quickly on passing HR676, as far as I am concerned, that will drive the final nail in their coffin. If they fail to show clarity of action and thought and support for America, I will be casting my vote for an independent candidate for every election in all future years. It’s not just healthcare that needs addressed, but we also must take aggressive measures to combat global warming, increase alternative energy development, reduce fossil fuel use, fix our educational system, rebuild our infrastructure, scale down our military, and enact publicly funded elections to allow us to get decent people in politics. We need to break the banks up, and make them do banking rather than allowing them to gamble with our money on the stock market. We need to bring back Glass Steagal, and start charging transaction fees to the stock market gamblers to help reduce the deficit and provide for beneficial programs. I doubt we’ll ever see this stuff happen because our government leaders are definitely the problem, and most unlikely, will they ever be the solution, but that’s what I believe we need to do. Unless I see this happening in the next four years, I will be moving to Australia, or England or Canada or anywhere that treats people better than America does. I know other countries also have problems of their own, but nothing like the endless problems America has that’s causing it to rot from inside. And although problems in this nation may spill over to other countries as well, at least I’ll feel better living in a place that cares. I would much prefer to pledge my allegiance to a nation that strives to give me affordable healthcare and see me cured from an illness, rather than endure within a nation that would gladly sentence me to death if I can’t afford to pay the extorted costs of fighting for my own life. In America, the insurance companies are the real Death Panels, and that’s why endless thousands die every year. It’s true that in America, life and death is often a choice that is made for you. There’s something badly wrong with America, and it’s not just in one thing, it’s so very many. I just pray that someday, men and women with conscience and a desire to save this nation are able to become our leaders. This is a beautiful land, and the hearts of the people are basically good, but the hearts of our leaders are often decayed and perverted. What we have now are primarily people with egos who serve only themselves, and the Republican part is absolutely sold out, and the Democratic party is not far behind. Bu there is a small ray of hope. We still have people like Bernie Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont. He, of all people in this nation, is one of my greatest heroes. He is a true American. We just need to clone Bernie, and our problems would be solved.

    • Denise Libien on November 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      I LOVE EVERYTHING you’ve said in your posting especially “charging transaction fees to the stock market gamblers”. I have already decided to leave the country because of the health care issue. I am moving to Australia in three weeks. I am a master’s prepared nurse and can’t find full time employment where I live because no one wants to pay benefits. I refuse to have three part time jobs with no vacation time, health care or retirement, running around like a chicken with my head cut off and my schedule constantly changing. I find this disgraceful and incredibly frustrating as a health care professional. I am very disturbed by the current state of affairs in health care and would rather live in a country that looks out for its people. The endless addiction to profit is what’s killing the United States.

      • Lorin Jones on November 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        Denise, good luck in Australia. My wife is actually from Australia and I was checking the other day on healthcare costs there. They have a system where you can have Government Healthcare if you choose, and you pay a small part for that in your taxes. Then they have their private system which is supported partially, but only slightly, by the government. This allows you to choose your own doctors and hospitals. To show the comparison between what they offer and what America offers, here’s some information that I want to share. My former wife died 12 years ago. After her death, I was on her COBRA for 2 years, and had one year remaining before COBRA expired when I decided I should look for my own healthcare. I was in good shape, and physically fit and I thought it would be a simple matter. It wasn’t. One after another insurance company turned me down. Reason for one turn down was that I had been on anti-depressants after my wife died from a stem cell transplant in Texas. It didn’t matter that Baylor Medical Center in Dallas Texas blew dust into her room from a construction project, and infected her brain from that dust and essentially killed her. They took 74 days to send her to Hell and back before she had a death that took her body out of their horrible hands. And I was there at her side for every one of those 74 days. Heaven forbid I would be on anti-depressants after that wonderful experience. Another company turned me down because my blood sugar had once been slightly over 110, which was considered high normal back then. One silly reason after another. Eventually, I compiled a massive document showing blood pressure readings, and other information and had a doctors statement and I sent this to Blue Cross and they finally approved my insurance. I had been without it for almost six months. It took over 1 1/2 years to get insurance in this wonderful nation they call America. Every year I had that insurance from the Blue, a supposed non-profit, the premiums increased between 20 to 25% per year because it was a private policy. I finally got out of Blue Cross because I calculated that by 2020, assuming an increase of 20% per year, I would be paying about $5,000 per month for premiums alone, not including deductibles and co pays and any other expenses they felt I should cover. Almost 3 years ago when I left Blue Cross, my premiums were almost $700 per year. Don’t even what to think what they would be now. But in Australia, I went online a week ago to an insurance company website, and was able to determine that I could get healthcare insurance with no deductible, no lifetime limits, and it included not only physical care, but mental care, and coverage for dental, ad vision, and hearing as well. And for both my wife and I, the cost would be approximately $270.00 per month, or $135.00 each. My former Blue Cross had a $2,000 deducible, lifetime limits, and did not cover mental, dental, vision or hearing. Essentially, the Australian policy was double the quality at probably 1/10th the cost. If they can do it, so could we, except for one thing. It’s the reason you stated. Your comment about profit killing America is absolutely true. I see it everyday in everything, and in everyplace. It’s so common, that today it’s abnormal not to see greed. It should be just the opposite. Good luck in Australia. It’s probably where my wife and I will be going as well. Lovely country, and if you get sick you won’t lose everything you’ve worked for, and you absolutely won’t have to work multiple jobs to survive or to get benefits. Other major and industrialized nations treat their people like citizens, or at least try to. America treats us like cattle, and the robber barons hold the cattle prod.

  3. Jan Gilbert on November 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I agree with Chris Hedges! we are all palastians now!

  4. Bruce on November 29, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    They KNOW it’s really more Obamanable Gran Buggerin’ !

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