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A Reminder to Conservatives: Hands off Medicare and Social Security!

Campaign season is heating up, and that means conservative politicians are rushing to declare their commitment to eviscerating Medicare and Social Security. That may be what the conservative base wants to hear, but these politicians should keep in mind that the public as a whole has quite a different attitude.

Start with this finding from a recent Pew poll: 58 percent thought it was more important to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits as they are rather than take steps to reduce the budget deficit (35 percent).

Figure 1

(Note: The above is recycled from the November 7 snapshot.)

In the same poll, 59 percent thought it was more important to avoid any future cuts in Social Security benefits, compared to 32 percent who thought it was more important to avoid any future Social Security tax increases for workers and employers.

Figure 2

Nor does the public like the idea of raising the age you can receive benefits for either Social Security or Medicare. By 59-39, the public opposes raising the age you can receive Social Security benefits and, by an almost identical 58-38, they oppose raising the age at which you can receive Medicare benefits.

Figure 3

These data serve as a reminder to conservative politicians not to confuse the views of their base with the views of the broader public. If they continue to do so, they could pay a significant price come next election.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis, go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.