80% of US Voters Across Party Lines Support Expanding Social Security

Yves here. I hope you’ll circulate this post widely. Liberals and libertarians have done a wildly effective job of depicting popular positions that have majority or at worst strong plurality support over time, like ending the wars, increasing the minimum wage, and strengthening Social Security as progressive, or even worse, pinko, and therefore fringe. It is particularly important to demand support of social programs as Democratic party incompetence increases the odds of clear Republican wins.

By Jessica Corbett. Originally published at Common Dreams

As progressive lawmakers renewed calls for protecting Social Security from GOP attacks, Data for Progress on Monday pointed to polling that shows about 80% of U.S. voters across partisan divides support boosting benefits.

As a recent Social Security Administration report explains, “The Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance (OASDI) program makes monthly income available to insured workers and their families at retirement, death, or disability.”

The program traces back to the Social Security Act, signed into law on August 14, 1935 by then-U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Marking the 87th anniversary Sunday, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) warned that the program is “under attack from Republicans,” despite its popularity among voters.

Data for Progress highlighted Monday that 86% of voters surveyed in June said they are “very” or “somewhat” concerned that the U.S. government will reduce Social Security benefits for those who currently receive them.

In July, the progressive think tank found that 70% of all voters—including 76% of Independents, 71% of Republicans, and 64% of Democrats—said they had heard “nothing at all” about GOP proposals to “sunset” the program.

Data for Progress also found last month that 81% of all likely voters—including 88% of Democrats, 79% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans—support legislation to raise Social Security benefits to match the cost of living.

“Moreover, voters strongly support the pay-fors introduced in new legislation that would increase the solvency of Social Security and pay for new, expanded benefits,” the group noted in a blog post. “We find that 76% of voters support imposing a payroll tax on Americans making more than $400,000 annually, including 88% of Democrats, 76% of Independents, and 65% of Republicans.”

The July polling further showed that 79% of all voters—including 89% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 72% of Republicans—believe Congress “should vote to expand Social Security benefits now, even though Democratic proposals only expand benefits for five years and would raise taxes on Americans earning more than $400,000 per year.”

As Democrats worry about losing control of Congress this November, the think tank pointed out that polls from this year suggest candidates would do better in elections if voters knew they want to expand Social Security.

Carly Berke, the strategic partnerships coordinator at Data for Progress and co-author of the new blog post, tweeted that amid GOP attacks on Social Security, Democrats “need to make clear they’re fighting to protect and expand benefits.”

U.S. Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC’s chair, and other members of Congress made that message clear in a Monday afternoon event hosted by Social Security Works.

Jayapal urged those benefiting from the program to share their stories and pressure lawmakers to pass Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust, legislation introduced by Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.).

“Social Security has provided our nation with the most comprehensive retirement, disability, and survivors benefits for 87 years,” Larson said in a statement. “Democrats are fighting to expand and protect it, yet my Republican colleagues have plans to cut benefits and even end the program as a whole.”

“Congress has not acted in 50 years to enhance benefits,” he noted. “The American people have made clear they want to protect the program they pay into with each and every paycheck so they can retire with dignity. With the Covid-19 pandemic still impacting our country and Republicans revealing their plans to end benefits, there is a fierce urgency to protect and enhance Social Security now.”

Advocating for his bill, Larson said that “alongside commemorating 87 years of this program, Congress must pass Social Security 2100: A Sacred Trust to make much-needed benefit improvements and ensure this program can serve our nation for years to come. Congress must vote!”

Some progressive lawmakers—including Jayapal—also support the Social Security Expansion Act, legislation introduced in June by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“A lot has changed in 87 years, but Americans’ reliance on Social Security has not,” DeFazio said Monday. “My bill, the Social Security Expansion Act (SSEA) would enhance monthly benefits and keep the program solvent through 2096.“

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  1. Paul Art

    The Democrats especially need to embark on a national education program about Social Security and Medicare. Schools and Colleges should be targeted specifically. When was the last time PBS featured a program on SS and Medicare? Jayapal and the Progressive Caucus should build a strongly funded communication arm for the Dems that will coordinate and reinforce messaging on priorities of the real workforce of this country. The GOP has been very successful in convincing the young that SS will never be there for them. This needs fixing first.

    1. Eclair

      Yes, we can rely on the Democrats to develop programs and implement policies to protect and enhance Social Security and Medicare. Just as they did for the protection of women’s health care and access to safe and legal abortion and birth control. Oh ….. wait!

      1. spud

        this is quite correct. with the bill clinton wing firmly in charge, it will be all talk, no action except to vote with the nafta democrats to finally finish off what bill clinton started, the complete dismantling of the new deal and fair deal.



        “Will these reforms help people, in the near-term?
        Are these reforms part of an effective long-term strategy to accomplish more, or are they a way of placating people?”

        Trump for all his faults poses no existential threat to the republic. What’s more Sanders and Robinson are deeply underestimating the damage a Biden presidency will cause.


      2. TimH

        Exactly. The DNC wants the nasty Repubs to come up with a bill that castrates SS, so that DNC can posture that they need money/votes to save the day. Not that they care about pensions for the poors either.

    2. chuck roast

      Don’t expect PBS to come to the rescue. The board is dominated by corporate and NGO foot-stools that have no interest in disturbing the current zeitgeist. The PMC is perfectly happy to watch the Newshour, cooking shows and Downton Abbey lookalikes and pull the lever for the corporate Dems every other November. However, you can expect to see an in-depth report about how the SS Trust Fund is running out of money. Kill your television.

  2. Amateur Socialist

    Right idea, probably wrong president. Biden’s antipathy towards SS is well documented over decades. It should have barred his qualification as a nominee but anyway.

    1. Telee

      Hard to believe but NC has not pointed out that Biden is hellbent on privatizing Social Security. Go to the PNHP (Physicians for a National Health Policy) for the ugly details. The Medicare Innovation Center entity opens the door was created in the ACA. Written into the ACA is that congress is not part of the decision. Now Biden has appointed Liz Fowler to head it ( remember her.)
      Senator Warren has publicly asked Biden to change his policy but he won’t. The plan is being implemented as we speak. The goal is to switch everyone ( without their choice) in traditional Medicare to the privatized plan by 2030. Private equity will administer the benefits for 40% of the Medicare dollar. Wall street is salivating. So don’t expect the democratic party to protect Medicare. It is disingenuous for democrats to say they will protect SS. READ ABOUT THIS!

      1. Paul P

        Monica Lewinsky protected Social Security from Bill Clinton’s plans to privatize it. Obama proposed redefining the
        COLA to make it smaller. Obama also appointed the anti-Social Security advocates Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson as co-chairs National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility,
        the cat food commission, appointed to deal with the deficit. Obama: “…any serious plan to tackle the deficit will require us to put everything on the table and take on excess spending wherever it exists in the budget.” The Democrats aren’t “incompetent”: they are a threat to Social Security, as are the Republicans.

  3. ambrit

    We rely on Social Security. This is a central part of our adherence to the social contract that keeps the “system” functioning. Remove the Social Security, or even just reduce the already low end benefits, and you remove any reason for older people to support the extant socio-political system in America.
    “When you have nothing, you have nothing to lose.”
    If the older cohort of the population sees it’s lifeline cut by the politicos, and this will be a clear example of malign neglect, they will abandon electoral politics and shift their allegiance to something more extreme. They will have nowhere else to go, politically.

    1. Lexx

      ‘Loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause.’

      ‘I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all’.

      ‘Shift their allegiance’? I have to keep looking up words here on NC to make sure I fully understand the definition before typing. I can’t see that the ‘superior’, ‘group’, or ’cause’ are in any way, shape, or form equally loyal to their subordinates, supporters, or followers. The benefits for the group effort seem to flow one way – up! – like a perpetual pyramid scheme, a fraud… or a corporation. At the end of the performance as the last of the audience files out and the doors are locked, our superiors head for the back room and the bourbon to count their take for the night and talk about how best to shakedown the citizens tomorrow.

      If those marks have a scintilla of tribalism in their hearts, a need to belong to something bigger than themselves, political (and religious) campaigns find it and connect it to their candidate, and if they succeed, lock in power through that position for The Party for another 2-4 years… and it’s one party with two faces.

      We can blame the Republican party for its members that publicly say they want to eliminate Social Security, but behind closed doors the Democrats are just as interested in giving their corporate masters what they want – privatizing all money, handing that money to Wall Street, and destroying the New Deal (The Dole). They don’t want people taken care of from cradle to grave, but just scraping by and working until they they keel over, to be replaced by the next expendable. These are our over-bred numbers being used against us… which is a shame since it’s exactly through those same overwhelming numbers that we might remake our political system and save ourselves… if we weren’t allowing ourselves to be divided by our notions of one-sided allegiance.

      If I were to reply to me, I’d probably say something here about the bracing effect putting a nation’s population through a war has on their “allegiance” to their country.

      1. Copeland

        Comments like this – keeps me coming back to NC – for the lucidity – that can’t be found elsewhere.

  4. Mark

    79% of all voters—including 89% of Democrats, 72% of Independents, and 72% of Republicans—believe Congress “should vote to expand Social Security benefits now.

    What part of this are Biden and the Democratic Party missing? What, in God’s name, is holding them back?

    This should be issue Number 1. Period.

    1. The Historian

      “What part of this are Biden and the Democratic Party missing? What, in God’s name, is holding them back?”

      We are still under the belief that this is a Republic and that what voters want actually matters. That time has come and passed. If you want to keep SS, then you are going to have to convince the 1% that SS will be good for them. The only way I can think of doing this is to make them afraid that the public will rise up against them if they take away any more benefits. Is the public willing to get out there and create mass demonstrations for SS yet?

      1. John Zelnicker

        “Is the public willing to get out there and create mass demonstrations for SS yet?”

        No, it’s not. Unfortunately, those on Social Security, like me, are mostly too old to hit the streets. Many of us did that for the civil rights and antiwar movements, but the vicissitudes of old age have caught up to us.

        As Paul Art noted above, the need is for a serious communication effort targeting the young to persuade them that this is something that will affect them even though it’s far into their future.

        We have to disabuse them of the notion that Social Security won’t be here for them. As many of you know, the government can continue funding Social Security and Medicare regardless of the tax receipts allocated to their “trust funds”.

  5. TimD

    America has a one-party system of Neoliberalism with two factions. The Tweedle Dee faction has the Neoliberal-lite Democrats who want to put a positive spin on the race to the bottom. The Tweedle Dumb faction is all about making hard choices now and crushing dissent. The only difference between the factions are the timelines and how you feel about it. It is not relevant what the majority of Americans want, it hasn’t been for quite some time.

  6. GramSci

    “In July, the progressive think tank found that 70% of all voters—including 76% of Independents, 71% of Republicans, and 64% of Democrats—said they had heard “nothing at all” about GOP proposals to “sunset” the program.”

    What percent of voters know about Democratic plans to sunset Social Security?


    Nancy Pelosi [speaking as a regular guest of the annual Peterson Austerity Summit]: “But the fact is that I come here each year very complimented to have the invitation of the Peterson family. Pete Peterson to me was a national hero. I loved him very much. He was the personification of the American dream, Greek American family, rising to the heights, the Mount Olympus of the financial community in our country, always sensitive to the needs of working people, always teaching us that the increase in the national debt was a tax on our children and that we had to hold it in check and be creative in how we did it. And he always said to me, ‘Nancy, keep your eye on the tax expenditures in the budget.’ So I feel very honored always to be invited to this.”

  7. Eureka Springs

    Here we go again. Pretending public opinion matters. Pretending this time there will be democracy. Pretending progressives are not Democrats. Pretending progs after eighty years of failing to do so can convince their corporation, I mean party, of something entirely against their grain. Every show, every act always ends with Democrats either helping Republicans or being worse than them. Just like Roe, all wars, health not care, economic disparity, everyone old enough knows S.S. has been getting worse, as planned and promised for at least forty years. Just like Roe, Dems have had decades to do something and decidedly chosen to sit on their hands at best.

    I keep thinking about a Russian woman on a recent Gonzo Lira panel. She said, in Moscow today, a nice two bedroom apartment in a decent neighborhood is about 500 per month. A very nice two bedroom in central happening areas are around 1,000. That she has never heard of someone being evicted in a manner which peoples belongings are thrown on the street or that delinquent renter has no other place to move into. Her home internet, 5.00 a month. Cell phone, 5.00 a month. And public transport negates the necessity of car ownership in the entire city.

    Democrats make sure we are looted to an extreme. If you get more S.S. they will just make sure it’s eaten up before you get it. So, so very much more than a S.S. raise is needed.

    Our federal system is a malignant cancer, robbing the people of life, liberty, representation, and the pursuit, even a concept of basic human decency. Democrats are more interested in making sure police can and will shoot us with no recourse than take away so many reasons for us not to rise up. Like Republicans it’s what they are doing all around the world every day.

    1. hk

      I don’t know how trustworthy these anecdotal claims about cost of living in unfamiliar countries are. There was a story linked from NC some time ago about absurdly low cost of living in US claimed by some Chinese publication.

  8. Anthony G Stegman

    It is delusional to think that Democrats will “save” Social Security. Obama was very willing to include cuts in Social Security as part of his master deal he hoped to make with Republican support. Clinton too was willing to make cuts to the program. Since Biden lies much of the time whatever he says means little. Actions speak much, much louder than his lying words. In any event, Manchin will never agree to raise taxes in order to expand Social Security. But, in order to reduce inflation, he likely will be very willing to cut the program.

    1. Telee

      It seems that few of the readers are aware that Biden is supporting the privatization of Medicare. It is happening NOW and few realize it. Read the comment I wrote above.

  9. Anthony G Stegman

    Here’s an idea. The Social Security Administration sells bonds totaling $1 trillion dollars in order to shore up and expand Social Security. The Federal Reserve creates $1 trillion and buys the bonds. What’s not to like? It worked for Wall Street bailouts.

  10. Morongobill

    Ironic that after 55 years working and paying into social security, I am concerned that it will be cut or possibly even eliminated. But not to worry, the War State will still get its huge cut of monies coming into the Treasury.
    And of course, the scoundrels and knaves who got this country into its current dire financial condition will be let off scot free.

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