Largely unreported in the negativity of this year’s election is how united the American people are over Social Security. New data from Public Policy Polling confirms what multiple other polls have found: Irrespective of age, race, gender, or party affiliation, Americans support expanding, not cutting, Social Security.
A favorite strategy of Social Security’s opponents is to try and pit different generations against each other. Former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chair of the failed Bowles-Simpson Commission, is among those eager to stoke generational warfare. On more than one occasion, he has asserted that seniors (who he generally labels “greedy geezers”) “don’t care about their grandchildren a whit.”
Fortunately, Simpson’s America is not the real America. In the real America, grandparents and grandchildren care about each other. American families know that we are stronger together. And the new polling shows that. It reveals that the effort to turn grandparents and grandchildren against each other has failed: 70 percent of 18-29 year olds, 65 percent of 30-45 year olds, 76 percent of 46-65 year olds, and 70 percent of Americans over 65 all support expanding, not cutting, Social Security. The story is very similar when it comes to race: 69 percent of whites, 82 percent of African-Americans, and 79 percent of Latinos are united in support of expansion.
Party affiliation, too, makes little difference. The Republican Party has spent decades working to cut and privatize Social Security, but the Party’s base disagrees: the majority of Republicans support expanding benefits, as do 87 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of Independents.
Irrespective of age, race, gender, or party affiliation, Americans support expanding, not cutting, Social Security.
While the American people are united in support of expanding, not cutting, Social Security, and paying for it by requiring the wealthiest Americans to contribute their fair share, the Presidential candidates and their respective Party leadership differ tremendously over what they would do if they could control Social Security’s future. Consistent with the will of the people, Hillary Clinton has pledged to expand, never cut, Social Security. The Democratic Platform fully backs the same position espoused by Clinton and the American people.
This isn’t just good politics, but also excellent public policy. The American people support expanding, not cutting, Social Security because they understand that our country is facing a looming retirement income crisis.
For most workers, defined benefit pensions are becoming a thing of the past, and 401ks have been an utter failure at replacing them. Rising inequality and stagnating wages for all but the wealthy have made it incredibly difficult for American families to save even for short-term emergencies. The median household nearing retirement has only $14,500 in savings, not enough to replace a retired family’s salary for even a year. It’s no surprise that three in five senior beneficiaries rely on Social Security for the majority of their income, and one out of three for virtually all of it. We need to expand the system’s modest benefits, not cut them.
In sharp contrast to Clinton and the Democrats, the Republican Party’s 2016 platform advocates cutting and dismantling, through privatization, our Social Security system. Donald Trump publically states that he won’t touch Social Security, but his choice of advisors and running mate — not to mention his own past statements and the Platform he controlled — make it clear that, once in office, he would fall in line with Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker Paul Ryan, and other leaders of the Republican Party who claim that they want to “save” Social Security but advocate cutting it.
A fascinating psychological phenomenon of this election is that Trump appears to project his own shortcomings onto others. After his sniffling through the first debate caused some to speculate that he was on Adderall or other speed medication, Trump claimed that Clinton was “pumped up” and should be drug-tested. Caught in endless lies, Trump nicknamed Senator Ted Cruz, “Lyin’ Ted.”
True to form, Trump has recently been projecting his own apparent desire to cut Social Security by claiming at his rallies that Hillary Clinton will cut Social Security. But the American people won’t be fooled. They are united in support of expanding, not cutting, Social Security. This alone, to the extent the electorate is aware of this stark difference, should cause Clinton and the Democrats to win big on November 8.