As Candidates Prepare to Debate Social Security, Americans Agree On a Path to Fix It
Lewis (aka Fehsenfeld), Evan
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According to the Social Security Trustees’ Report, if no steps are taken by Congress to reform Social Security, its trust fund will be exhausted in 2033, and after that, the program will only be able to deliver benefits based on current receipts--which would result in a 23% benefit cut to retirees. A major reason that Social Security has not been addressed is a widespread assumption that the American public is not willing or able to face the issue and thus bringing it up is too politically risky. Social Security has been called a ‘third rail,’ implying that it is political suicide to address it. Much of the existing polling data tends to reinforce the belief that the public’s attitudes toward Social Security are too conflicted and anxious to support any kind of constructive action. While majorities believe that Social Security is headed for a crisis, when asked, in separate questions, about raising the retirement age, cutting benefits, or raising taxes, majorities often say they do not find these options appealing. Citizen Cabinet surveys take a different approach that goes beyond initial reactions. Rather than a series of separate questions, respondents go through a process called a ‘policymaking simulation’ in which they are asked to go into a problem‐solving mode. The objective is to put respondents in the shoes of a policymaker. Respondents are given a background briefing, presented arguments for and against policy options, and then finally make their recommendations.