The Babe Theory Of Political Movements.
Mar. 21, 2005 11:50 AM
Iran's Sham Election In Houston.
June 20, 2005 5:36 AM
Yes, Kanye, Bush Does Care.
Oct. 31, 2005 12:41 AM
Health Care vs. Wealth Care.
Nov. 23, 2005 3:28 PM
Americans Voting With Their Feet.
Nov. 30, 2005 1:33 PM
Idea Majorities Matter.
May 12, 2006 6:15 PM
Twilight Zone Economics.
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The "Shrinking" Middle Class.
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From Ashes, GOP Opportunities.
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Battle Between Entitlements & Pork.
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Let Economic Freedom Reign.
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Biggest Health Care Moment In Decades.
July 25, 2007 4:32 PM
Unions Antithetical to Liberty.
May 28, 2008 11:12 PM
Right To Work States Rock.
June 9, 2008 12:25 PM
Social Security Reform Thursday.
March 13, 2008
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The Carnival Of Classiness.
Mar. 14, 2006
Quotational Therapy: Obama.
Apr. 4, 2008
Mainstream Melee: Wolfowitz.
May 19, 2007
Pundit Roundtable: Leaks.
July 9, 2006
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July 14, 2006
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The Mysteries Of Social Security Polling.
One liberal talking point on Social Security is that "the more people know about Social Security reform, the more they oppose it." This is actually code for "the more the pollsters push people against Social Security reform, the more the people will oppose it."
Imagine knowing almost nothing about Social Security reform but someone conducting a public opinion poll on the matter asks you about it after running down the typical list of (mostly misleading) criticisms of reform.
The most dangerous omission from most Social Security polling questions today is the fact that guaranteed benefits do not exist. Without reform, those so-called guaranteed benefits are guaranteed to see a cut of between 1/4 and 1/3, guaranteed.
Most polling questions offer a dichotomous choice between "guaranteed benefits" (if we do nothing) and "less guaranteed money" (under reform). If pollsters quit telling people that if we do nothing these "guaranteed benefits" would remain unchanged, and instead started informing people on the facts, it is clear the public might react differently.
Another problem with most Social Security polling today is the idea that reform is somehow going to cost all of this money to accomplish. Pollsters ask questions such as this recent one from Time magazine:
Under the Bush plan, the federal government would have to borrow between one trillion and two trillion dollars or more over the next 10 years or so to provide Social Security to retirees in order to make up for the money going into the personal investment accounts. The money would be paid back later, over time. Would you now favor or oppose allowing some Social Security money to be invested in personal accounts and reducing benefits if the government had to borrow up to two trillion dollars in the next 10 years to pay for the new plan?
When asked the above question, only about a quarter of respondents support reform. If pollsters would inform people of this information (that the "transition costs" are really not new costs at all, just a recognition of existing costs, that these costs would be like paying off the mortgage earlier, that doing it this way would actually save trillions over the long-term, and that the benefits would vastly outweigh the negatives of doing nothing), support for short-term borrowing to cover the transition from a demographic pyramid scheme (pay-as-you-go) to a self-sustaining and perpetually-solvent funding system would rise dramatically.
Today, voters know so little about the details of Social Security and its reform that they will indeed respond to potential reforms in a superficial, partisan manner. Democrats who think Bush is an illegitimate president and opposed his Iraq war will reflexively oppose anything else Bush is behind, including changes in Social Security....
Hill also describes a more appropriate way to measure opinions and attitudes on Social Security than the current methods being used in the elite media polls:
At the beginning of each interview, I’d ask respondents where they stand on personal accounts. Then I would tell them that there is going to be a great debate on personal accounts during the course of this year. I’d say that I want them to hear arguments that supporters and opponents will make about personal accounts. Then I would read equal numbers of pro and con statements, asking how convincing each statement seems to be.
Wizbang blog explains polling, noting:
...there is an inverse correlation between the complexity of an issue and how well it polls in America.
When members of the administration talk about a long-term effort to educate the public on Social Security reform, they mean it. Because the issue of Social Security is so complex, the necessary level of support for reform requires laying the groundwork, piece by piece, bit by bit, as well as the big-picture. Laying the groundwork also includes the destruction of the myths that cause support for Social Security reform to drop.
The most important of these:
Older Americans must be assured that they will not see any change in their benefits.
So, how is the long-term march to reform going thus far?
Well, here are some encouraging polling figures:
From an RNC strategy memo:
More from the memo:
The latest Gallup poll shows that Americans think Social Security is now the most important domestic issue. At 12%, Social Security has increased by 8% since January and is a greater concern than the economy (10%), health care (9%), or terrorism (9%).
The RNC memo also notes that Bush has an advantage over Democrats in terms of actually trying to find a solution. If people believe there is a problem (which there is), and Bush is the one trying to do something about it, even if reform fails in the short-term, the public will blame the Democrats:
But isn't that a dubious source, the RNC?
Well, it can't be any worse than Ruy Teixeira's Emerging Democratic Majority analysis, which says that reform is dead in the water, people don't want it, the country doesn't need it, and so on.
Ouch on that name, by the way, "Emerging Democratic Majority": just how long will it take this majority to emerge? Teixeira has been predicting Democrats to take power for some time now. He's been wrong every election cycle, and he is wrong on Social Security as well.
Surveys conducted by Rasmussen Reports in 2005 show that between 36% and 48% of senior citizens believe their own retirement benefits will be cut by President Bush’s approach to Social Security. This concern exists despite the fact that the President and other advocates of reform have stated that they will guarantee all promised benefits to those 55 and older. This misconception is widely recognized by activists and journalists, although not many have focused on its impact.
Or take this, from The Washington Times:
Three-fifths of people 55 and older think Social Security private accounts for younger workers are a good idea, as long as their own benefits remain untouched.
Bottom line is that this Social Security reform journey will be a lengthy one, requiring education and reassurance of common doubts to pass, but the reform journey is more promising than many would have you believe.
Posted by Will Franklin · 25 March 2005 04:08 PM
Social Security SUCKS! it is the LAMEST GAME IN TOWN.....That's all folks!
Posted by: Zsa zsa at March 25, 2005 04:34 PM
Why would anyone not be for reform? It is such a bad investment...That money could and should be paying us all back much better! i vote reform. REFORM!
Posted by: Zsa zsa at March 25, 2005 06:36 PM
What else can be said but,REFORM, Reform ,reform....
Posted by: wicked witch of west at March 26, 2005 07:14 PM