Exploring Real Attitudes Toward Entitlement Reform

The latest Reason-Rupe survey results reveal diverse attitudes toward Social Security and Medicare and towards the potential for reform.

Overwhelmingly, Americans view Social Security and Medicare as “contributive” programs, meaning that they believe that all Americans who contributed should be rewarded by receiving their benefits.

This conceptualization of entitlements as “contributive” rather than “redistributive” was explored and discussed in a previous post. Our findings reveal that a majority of Americans are open to entitlement reform as long as they are guaranteed to receive the money they have already contributed into the two programs.

This also helps potentially explain why 67 percent of Americans oppose raising the retirement age. If a majority of Americans view these programs as contributive and essentially a contract with the government, it explains why they would not want the government to change the terms of the contract for when they start getting their money back.

When asked what the Social Security retirement age should be, results ranged from 65 to 75, with a median of 65.

Nevertheless, Americans favor allowing individuals to opt out of the programs if they choose.

In part, this result is likely driven by the 60 percent of individuals who believe that they are primarily responsible for saving enough money to meet basic expenses in retirement. However, only 43 percent believe they are personally responsible for saving enough money to purchase health insurance in retirement.

Most Americans are also not convinced that they will receive back the money they have already contributed to the Social Security system. Retirees, however, are more confident that they will continue to receive expected benefits, in contrast to those who have not yet retired.

Expectations for Social Security Benefits

Click here for full survey results.

Survey Methods

The Reason-Rupe Q3 2011 poll collected a nationally representative sample of 1200 respondents, aged 18 and older from all 50 states and the District of Columbia using live telephone interviews from August 9th-18th 2011. The margin of sampling error for this poll is ± 3 percent. The margin of error for the GOP presidential race numbers is ± 4.79%. Interviews were conducted with respondents using both landline (790) and mobile phones (410). Landline respondents were randomly selected within households based on the adult who had the most recent birthday. Sample was weighted by gender, age, ethnicity, and Census region, based on the most recent US Census data. The sampling frame included landline and mobile phone numbers generated using Random Digit Dialing (RDD) methods and randomly selected numbers from a directory-listed sample. Clickhere for full methodological details. NSON Opinion Strategy conducted the poll’s fieldwork. View full methodology.

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  • Zuo||

    Cut a check to everybody who paid in, for what they paid in. Then nuke it from orbit.

    FUCK freeloaders who paid in $24 dollars and get payouts in the hundreds of K.

  • some guy||

    Then nuke it from orbit.
    It's the only way to be sure.

    freeloaders who paid in $24 dollars and get payouts in the hundreds of K.
    Does this actually happen? I don't think this actually happens in SS. I guess it could happen in Medicare, but would be very rare.

  • Rhet Orical||

    Does anyone here believe that polls are reality?

  • some guy||

    They are a window on reality. Just information and evidence, but never the whole story.

  • ||

    I don't understand why we can't atleast reform the program for those 10 years down the road who don't expect for such an extravagant payout. I don't expect anything, but those 75% of the way there deserve atleast what they pay. Just end the madness.

  • Au H20||

    Oh, give them what they paid in to Medicare! It's probably about 10,000 bucks, and won't pay for much, but that's what you fucks paid in!

  • ||

    Retirees, however, are more confident that they will continue to receive expected benefits, in contrast to those who have not yet retired.

    I think it's time to let Ol' Painless out the bag. HERE'S YOUR BENEFITS, GEEZBAGGERS!

  • ||

    Polls are so unbelievably retarded. Why would reason sully its name by doing the same idiotic shit that, say, Newsweek does?

  • squarooticus||

    I want a pony, too.

    The respondents don't understand that the contributive part of the system is aa Ponzi scheme: it only works with new suckers. Someone is going to get nothing back for what they paid in, and I vote for that being the generation that wilfully ignored the problem, I.e., not mine.

  • hypno hat||

    Who was the True Genius who pointed out that the biggest political scam of the twentieth century was convincing the WWII generation that SS and Medicare are not charity. Genius. True Genius.

  • Almanian||

    tl;dr

    But loved the comments. Now, back to something really important: "South Park". The "Canada on Strike" episode. Classic. But aren't they all?

    The End

  • ||

    it takes a lot of capitalism to support the welfare state too many believe they are entitled to.

  • Trail of Tears||

    it takes a lot of genocide to support the capitalist state too many believe they are entitled to.

  • Geezer||

    guaranteed to receive the money they have already contributed

    Including compounded 8% annual interest and accounting for real inflation, of course.

  • Amakudari||

    Yo, pro-tip: each chart should contain all the information necessary to interpret it. Include a title and source information. Please. I just polled everyone and asked if you need to do this. Here are the results.

  • Amakudari||

    Minority attitude though it may be.

  • some guy||

    I know! What is this? Some BS online rag?

  • Amakudari||

    Most bloggers usually have this stuff figured out.

    I can only tell what these are for based on their filenames:

    http://reason.com/assets/mc/ee.....optout.jpg

    http://reason.com/assets/mc/ee.....optout.jpg

  • Alan||

    Back in the 1980's Chile's retirement system was becoming a large part of the federal budget, so they gave people the option to receive a rebate for their contributions and invest their money themselves. 95% of the country chose to opt out, and now their federal budget isn't clogged up with an overwhelming retirement program, and the citizens have done very well on their own.

  • ||

    So chile is a good place to emigrate to.

    Good to know...

  • Biggest government entitlement||

    The primary redistributive big-government entitlement program is privation property land title.

  • Watoosh||

    The problem I see with a simple "opt out" solution with something like Social Security is that the only real place people can invest in is the stock market, since the currency has been inflated for a century and a simple savings account would leave you with fuck all for retirement. And how the fuck would normal people have the time and skills to keep up with the stock market for decades? Maybe if the economy wasn't built on sand you could consider opting out, but it is what it is.

  • adam||

    There are other options. You can purchase retirement annuities from insurance companies, for example, that give you a guaranteed amount of income. Insurance companies will sell these to you in exchange for a monthly payment during your working years. If SS wasn't around, I'd expect that this kind of product would be quite popular.

  • some guy||

    I keep seeing these ads for reverse mortgages too. Pretty interesting idea for home owners.

  • some guy||

    Wattoosh, you can also invest in bonds and commodities. A properly balanced portfolio will protect you from both inflation and recession. There's a bunch of "balanced" funds out there that you can invest in so you don't have to keep up with much of anything. Little time and little skill needed.

  • Amakudari||

    the only real place people can invest in is the stock market

    Or bonds, commodities, CDs, annuities, etc.

    And most people don't need to keep up with stocks, even if that is their main investment: just buy index funds. If they have a broad-based global basket of investments, they'll do pretty well over a sufficiently long time horizon.

  • adam||

    That annual statement that SS sends tells you how much you've paid in SS taxes and Medicare taxes over your life. Maybe that thing needs to be updated to explain the difference between those taxes and the actual cost of the benefits being paid.

  • Alan||

    I'm all in favor of letting everyone who contributed get some of their money back, but when will people realize that they'll be lucky if they get back 80 cents on the dollar - and the longer we delay fixing this, the less we'll be getting back?

  • some guy||

    When asked what the Social Security retirement age should be, results ranged from 65 to 75, with a median of 65.

    Here's an idea: Stop stealing my money and I'll decide when my retirement age should be. The rest of you can die in the streets, or not, as you see fit.

  • Dr. K||


    Our findings reveal that a majority of Americans are open to entitlement reform as long as they are guaranteed to receive the money they have already contributed into the two programs.


    Which is another way of saying that they don't support entitlement reform at all. Look folks, like all ponzi schemes, the money is GONE. Insisting they can shut down the program right after they "pay you back" is the same thing as insisting it continue forever. You need to accept that you'll never get paid back, and that the most prudent course is to shut down the monster before it destroys any more.

  • Nike Dunk High||

    thanks

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