Last Updated Aug 4, 2011 6:38 PM EDT
My answer is always the same: As long as we have democracy, we'll have Social Security.
Why do I say this? Social Security is very popular among Americans, as demonstrated by these polls conducted this year:
- Polls sponsored by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, MoveOn.org, and CREDO Action found that over 70 percent of survey respondents in four states were opposed to any reductions in Social Security benefits, even if necessary to reduce the federal debt.
- Polls sponsored by Social Security Works, The Alliance for Retired Americans, and the National Committee To Preserve Social Security and Medicare show that roughly three-fourths of voters in 5 states report that they would oppose reducing Social Security benefits, even if this action was part of an effort to reduce the federal budget deficit. This poll also reports that 70 percent of voters would support an increase in taxes on high wage earners to strengthen Social Security.
- The New York Times reports the results of a poll sponsored by AARP that shows 90 percent of survey respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 deemed Social Security to be very important, and almost half said that Social Security is one of the most important government programs.
These results aren't new -- they're consistent with polls conducted over the years.
Simply put, Social Security is one of the most popular federal programs -- ever. As long as politicians need to answer to voters, it will be there in some shape or form. This doesn't mean that Social Security benefits won't get reduced or that taxes might be increased to maintain the viability of the system. But if politicians are hesitant to suggest even modest benefit reductions, then there's no way they will eliminate the program entirely.
So when we watch the debates about possible changes to Social Security, conducted by the bi-partisan committee from the recent debt compromise, keep this in mind: As long as we have democracy, we'll have Social Security.
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