A Pew Poll just out this morning reports has some numbers showing that a really surprising number of Republican voters want to keep Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. It’s more important to keep these two programs than it is to reduce the deficit.
On the broad question of whether it is more important to reduce the budget deficit or to maintain current Medicare and Social Security benefits, the public decisively supports maintaining the status quo. Six-in-ten (60%) say it is more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are; only about half as many (32%) say it is more important to take steps to reduce the budget deficit.
Half (50%) of Republicans say that maintaining benefits is more important than deficit reduction; about as many (42%) say it is more important to reduce the budget deficit. More independents prioritize maintaining benefits over reducing the deficit (by 53% to 38%). Democrats overwhelmingly view preserving current Social Security and Medicare benefits as more important (by 72% to 21%).
The public also opposes making Medicare recipients more responsible for their health care costs and allowing states to limit Medicaid eligibility.
What this suggests is that a substantial majority of Americans of all parties believe these social programs must be kept intact. There are variations, of course, related to age, income, etc. Still, this group, if a coalition were formed, could be a powerful vacuum cleaner eager to suck up and spit out just about everyone to the right of blue dog Dems in the 2012 election.
Cross posted from the blog Prairie Weather.