Reflecting what voters said in AFL-CIO's election-night poll, a poll conducted on behalf of Democracy Corps and the Campaign for America's Future (CAF) shows that voters strongly reject proposals to cut Social Security and Medicare. When asked which was more important, 70% of respondents said that protecting education, Medicare and Social Security was more important than broad cuts to reduce the deficit. More than half—58%—of the overall sample said that they felt strongly about opposing such cuts. Only 17% of the survey said they felt strongly that across-the-board cuts were important enough to cut the popular programs.
More than half of respondents also said that any plan to address the deficit should start with raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans, not by reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits.
The survey also asked voters about specific components of the plan proposed by Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, leaders of a bipartisan commission on reducing the deficit. Specifically, the majority of voters rejected:
- Capping Medicare payments, forcing seniors to pay more (79%).
- Requiring deep cuts in domestic programs without protecting programs for infants, poor children, schools and college aid (75%).
- Cutting discretionary spending, like education, child nutrition, worker training and disease control (72%).
- Cutting taxes for the rich and corporations (67%).
- Continuing to tax investors' income at lower rates than workers' pay (63%).
- Reducing Social Security benefits over time by having them rise more slowly than the cost of living (62%).
Survey respondents also showed that they wanted the deficit reduced by methods other than cutting Social Security and Medicare:
- 69% said that they favored shutting down tax havens abroad by putting a minimum tax on corporate profits reported overseas.
- 89% said they favored reducing Medicare costs by negotiating lower drug prices from drug companies.
- 79% oppose capping Medicare payments, forcing seniors to pay more.
- 72% favor cutting military spending by ending the war in Afghanistan.
- 65% want to cut subsidies to oil companies, agribusiness and multinational corporations.
- 72% oppose cutting education, child nutrition, worker training and disease control.
- 75% say it is acceptable for a deficit reduction deal to create a higher tax rate on those earning more than one million dollars a year.
The poll was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research on behalf of Democracy Corps and CAF. Surveyed were 1,000 2012 presidential voters on Nov.6-7, after the election. The poll was weighted to reflect the National Exit Survey and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1%.