THE AARP November survey delivers facts that few who study the subject would find surprising.
The respondents included 34% Democrats, 33% Republicans, 24% Independents, 7% none of the above, along with some obstinate stragglers. Here’s a snippet:
No Last-Minute Deals on Medicare and Social Security: The majority of 50+ adults (70%), across party lines, believe a separate public debate about the future of Medicare and Social Security is needed and changes should not be part of any end-of- year deal (71% Democrat, 67% Republican, 71% Independent). Furthermore, two-thirds (67%) believe changes to Medicare and Social Security should be made based on the needs of the people and not just their impact on the budget (75% Democrat, 59% Republican, 67% Independent).
Want Their Voices Heard: Almost all of adults age 50+ (92%) believe it is very important that Washington listen to ordinary citizens when it comes to decisions about Medicare and Social Security (92% Democrat, 93% Republican, 92% Independent).
Cuts to Medicare and Social Security to Reduce the Deficit: Across party lines, the majority of adults age 50+ (76%) oppose reducing Medicare benefits to reduce the deficit (84% Democrat, 70% Republican, 74% Independent). Similarly, a majority (75%) oppose reducing Social Security benefits to reduce the deficit (79% Democrat, 70% Republican, 76% Independent).
Cuts to COLA to Reduce the Deficit: The majority of adults age 50+ (61%) oppose changing the Social Security cost of living adjustment (63% Democrat, 62% Republican, 59% Independent).
Promise to Seniors: An overwhelming majority of 50+ adults (78%) believe it is very important not to reduce Social Security benefits for current recipients (80% Democrat, 73% Republican, 80% Independent). Likewise, more than seven in ten (76%) believe it is very important not to reduce Medicare benefits for current beneficiaries (80% Democrat, 70% Republican, 75% Independent).
Reduce Health Costs Not Benefits: When it comes to reducing Medicare costs, 50+ adults would prefer changes in payment policy for healthcare providers to encourage greater effort to contain costs rather than discouraging health care use by changing seniors’ payments such as higher deductibles and co-pays (71% compared to 12%). These findings hold across party lines (81% Democrat, 64% Republican, 68% Independent).
Priority for Lame Duck Session: Public opinion was probed for various decisions Congress could make during the post-election session to address expiring tax cuts and automatic spending cuts. Extending tax cuts for middle income taxpayers (74%) garners the most support while extending the tax cuts for all taxpayers is supported by slightly less than half (48%). There is mid-level support for extending unemployment benefits (56%) and preventing payment cuts to doctors in Medicare (46%). Less support is seen for replacing automatic cuts to defense and other government spending (41%) and for enacting reductions in Medicare (19%) and Social Security (15%).
Want to Know What Changes Mean for Them: Less than half of 50+ adults felt President Obama provided enough information about his plans for Medicare (45%) and Social Security (43%) so that they could understand how it may impact them personally. Democrats were much more likely than Republicans to feel they had enough information about President Obama’s plans for Medicare (76% Democrat, 19% Republican, 38% Independent) and Social Security (78% Democrat, 14% Republican, 38% Independent).
Confidence is Weak about Getting Facts: Half of 50+ adults (55%) are confident that they will have enough information about any proposed changes to Medicare and Social Security, although intensity of confidence is weak and driven by political party (88% Democrat, 25% Republican, 52% Independent).
Confidence about Changes Reflecting Views is Mixed: Confidence that any changes made to Medicare and Social Security will reflect respondents’ views varies strongly by party. (80% Democrat, 17% Republican, 44% Independent).