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Still More Positive Polling On Social Security Reform.

This is getting tedious. A poll showing broad support for Social Security is released. The elite media subsequently ignore it. It's happened countless times in the past few months. Prepare for it to happen again.

It's become common wisdom in the elite media, along with much of even the conservative/libertarian blogosphere, that Social Security reform "isn't gaining political traction" or, more crudely, "is dead in the water."

Personal accounts, we're told incessantly, are wildly unpopular, or, at best, not something regular people would ever go out of their way to support. The special interest groups, we were told, with myriad unique vested interests in the dysfunctional status quo, would rally their pseudo-Marxist warrior-luddite activists against reform, killing a pro-growth, pro-choice Social Security reform plan, all while politically wounding President Bush and anyone else who grabbed on to the traditional third rail of politics.

Failure to convince Americans on the issue would mean instant lame duck status. Bush's 60-day tour, the nattering nabobs of negativity maintain, was a flop, a disaster, and it actually set back the cause of reform.

As Lee Corso, the intentionally dumb-and-annoying-but-lovable ESPN football analyst would say, "NOT SO FAST, MY FRIEND."


Yet another new poll has great news for the President in his push to rescue Social Security from the radical status quo-ers, this time from Zogby. The Washington Times has the Social Security reform poll numbers:

First, before you can have a consensus for reform, you must have a consensus that there is something wrong and in need of fixing.

Voters by 62 percent to 30 percent remained deeply skeptical about Social Security's promise to pay future benefits. Skepticism was highest among younger voters, with more than 70 percent saying they doubted that the system would be able to pay their benefits when they reached retirement age.

So, the 60-day tour and other speeches DID WORK in convincing Americans about the necessity of reform? Shocking. Scandalous, even.

And, in terms of President Bush's reform principles, Americans also expressed solid support.


Bush's Social Security reform plan (all Americans)-
52% support reform
40% oppose reform

Then, there's the case of Rock the Vote, and its woefully out-of-touch, reactionary position on the issue:


Under 30-
66% support reform
23% oppose reform

Contrast Rock the Vote's anti-reform agenda with the refreshing voice of Students for Saving Social Security. It's night and day, and, once again, Rock the Vote demonstrates how it has become an arm of the far-left-wing of the increasingly out-of-the-mainstream Democratic Party, while eschewing its ostensible purpose, giving voice to the political concerns of young people.

Between 30 and 50-
58% support reform
37% oppose reform

Over 65 (who, remember, wouldn't be affected at all by the President's reforms)-
40% support reform
52% oppose reform

Over 70-
38% support reform
55% oppose reform

Again, the only potential negative political fallout from reforming Social Security (the right way) would come from the New Deal age cohort and older. But, because reform would leave the program intact for older voters, they would "still get their checks," as "Stump Speech Bush" famously and repeatedly articulates. Because they would still get their checks, there is zero reason for seniors to revolt in 2006 or 2008 on the issue. Zero.

Campaigns tend to clarify issues, and if a reform package is passed this year, it will be easy to make the case in 2006 that, "hey, you're still getting your checks, aren't you? Well, we saved Social Security so your grandkids can get theirs 40 years from now."

End of story.

Any Congressional Republican (ahem, Ginny Brown-Waite) worried about losing votes (ahem, Katherine Harris) because of support for Social Security reform is either cowardly-- or, more likely, lazy (and doesn't want to expend the energy explaining her own winning ideas). If a Republican legislator in a district concentrated with elderly voters cannot defend her support for Social Security reform in a campaign, and, furthermore, cannot explain the simple and undeniable fact that seniors will see no changes in the entirely optional reform, maybe that legislator isn't really Congressional material to begin with.

Rest assured, President Bush is an effective campaigner on behalf of fellow Republicans in close races. Look no further than his coattails in 2002 and 2004, elections in which the President's incumbent party, remarkably, and against the long-standing historical pattern, actually improved its governing majorities in both chambers of Congress. Meanwhile, Democrats from states Bush won in 2000 and 2004 should pay heed to polls such as these. Bush is a relentless campaigner for Republicans, but he is also a ruthless campaigner against obstructionist Democrats. Lame duck or not, President Bush has the power to make or break the political fortunes of many members of Congress; added majorities in 2006 would allow Bush to shake the lame duck status and accomplish a few more big agenda items, so you know he's not going to "front porch" it. He's even said as much, warning, "those who block meaningful reform are going to be held to account in the polls."

But, can't Democrats just stand back and let the Republicans flail and drown in the negative and biased media current? Isn't "no" a winning strategy?


The Zogby poll found:

"By an overwhelming 70-22 percent margin, voters believe that opponents of President Bush's proposals for Social Security reform have an obligation to put out their own plan for reforming the program," including 55 percent of Democratic voters, Mr. Zogby said in a report of his findings.

Where's the plan, Harry Reid? Where's the plan Nancy Pelosi?

Merely saying "no dice" to necessary reform is not a plan, it's 1930s left-wing dogma.


In Red States (Bush won in 2004)-
57% support reform
36% oppose reform

In Blue States (Kerry won in 2004)-
48% support reform
44% oppose reform

You think this poll, in the elite media, will garner breathless headlines and generate ample discussion about how the President has succeeded in making the case for reform to the American people? If the past few months of excrutiatingly biased (.pdf) reporting on the Social Security issue are any indication, not a chance. How many of these supportive polls (ones actually responsive to the real issues) do we have to have before the establishment media, so wrong, so often, finally declare that the political momentum on the issue is solidly behind the President?


Cato adds:

*53% of union members also support personal accounts.
*Independents support personal accounts to the tune of 55%-33%.
*Self-described moderates support personal accounts 48%-45%.

Posted by Will Franklin · 31 May 2005 05:15 AM


As this article clearly shows, a poll's results absolutely depends on the wording! Personally, I don't take polls very seriously. I also don't believe that any of the so-called social security reform plans proposed so far are even remotely reasonable. I say - back to the drawing boards!

Posted by: Annie at May 31, 2005 06:32 AM

Clearly Social Security is bad investment. Clearly Social Security must be reformed sooner or later. Sooner better than later.

Posted by: Kang cho at May 31, 2005 07:26 AM

President Bush's reform principles? What exactly are they?

If the polls are so good for the president, I'm sure Karl Rove has these numbers too. And so would the Republican congress. So I wonder why they don't just go ahead and write the bill.

As the pres. always says, electeds that don't work with him to reform SS would face the wrath of the voters come elction time. Okay, so go ahead. Write the bill and put it to vote. Let's see who's bluffing.

It's dead in the water folks. Don't kid yourselves that it's anything but.

Posted by: Charlie at May 31, 2005 11:17 AM


Without question, there are phrasings of the issue that show there is fertile ground where support for the President's initiatives could grow.

However, when pollsters simply ask if people support the President's plan for Social Security, we're running behind. A good example is the most recent NBC/WSJ poll. When asked if people support or oppose "Congress considering changing the Social Security system to allow people to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private accounts", we're down 6 points.

The battle is not lost, but we're not winning it yet.

Posted by: Gerry at May 31, 2005 11:33 AM



As we speak, Social Security legislation is being written by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas.

And, if you honestly want to see the President's reform principles and aren't just being a little partisan tool, you can go here:

Click here for the principles.

The principles:

1. VOLUNTARY personal accounts for younger workers.
2. No changes for those over 55.
3. One personal account option would be entirely made up of bonds.
4. The personal accounts would look like the Thrift Savings Plans (which are conservative mixes of stocks and bonds).
5. No tax hikes that would hurt the economy.
6. If someone has worked and paid into the system throughout their lives, they will not retire in poverty (progressive indexing).
7. No band-aid solutions.
8. Any change would be gradual, so younger workers would have time to prepare and plan for what is to come.
9. To protect older workers from sudden downturns right before retirement, there would be lifecycle funds, which rely more heavily on bonds and less on stocks the closer to retirement one gets.

That you didn't know the President's reform principles proves just how absent the reporting has been on this.

Posted by: Will Franklin at May 31, 2005 11:34 AM


Sounds a lot like the Contract With America... the American people said they opposed it, while they supported every single agenda item on it by overwhelming margins. It's the same thing here. People support Social Security reform. They support personal accounts. But you're right about there being a big fight still ahead.

Posted by: Will Franklin at May 31, 2005 11:38 AM

Rock the Vote is so LAME! I can imagine, if the Democrats had not been sitting on their bums and a Dem. had proposed them same exact plan we would be hearing a different tune from them! Social Security reform is something that will be great for all Americans. Why I ask? Why would anyone willingly choose to pay more and get less for a retirement fund? Our future generations deserve better than what we were forced to invest in!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at May 31, 2005 03:30 PM

Part of the reason why those of you on the Right continue to lose the debate over Social Security, is because of blatant acts of distortions and manipulation such as this poll!

This is not an official, independent Zogby poll, evidence of the fact that it is not mentioned whatsoever on the Zogby website. This is a poll conducted on behalf of the Cato Institute, utilizing their carefully worded questions to produce their desired results.

The Right can continue to chide the Democrats for not offering up an alternative Social Security plan, but I can think of no better reason for Reid & Co. to do the politically prudent thing and stay silent, than the one you just provided.

Posted by: that colored fella at June 1, 2005 05:10 AM

Right or Left or anywhere else you wish to be considered! This is an issue that should be a choice for all Americans to decide!... The debate needs to end! What American workers decide to do with their own hard earned money for retirement should be their own business. If you choose to pay into Social Security for retirement, good for you! As long as you are aware you are paying more and getting less and you are pleased about doing so, fine! Keep your precious Soc.Sec. As for me I prefer a different approach to my retirement! Actually, my children and our future generations deserve to make that decision for themselves! Not the government!

Posted by: Zsa Zsa at June 1, 2005 10:26 AM