Poll: Public Support for Chained CPI; Only Tepid Support for Health Care Law


Both Democrats and Republicans have criticized the president's proposal to slow the growth of Social Security by using chained CPI to calculate benefit increases, but President Obama may have the public on his side: 57 percent favor "changing the way benefits are calculated so they increase at a slower rate," when they learn about Social Security's financial problems, according to the May Reason-Rupe poll. Thirty-four percent oppose such a change to Social Security.

Majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents favor using chained CPI, upon learning that Social Security currently pays out more than it collects in taxes and without changes the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted in 2033, requiring a benefit reduction of 25 percent or more. Younger people overwhelmingly support this change, while a plurality of seniors and retirees oppose it.

The January Reason-Rupe poll also asked about using chained CPI to calculate Social Security benefit increases, but did not include information about Social Security's financial situation. Without being told this, 55 percent of Americans oppose using chained CPI to calculate benefit increases while 39 percent support it. Majorities of each political group oppose it, but a majority of Americans under 35 support it.

These data suggest that even without necessarily knowing about Social Security's financial situation, young Americans are open to entitlement reform. But also, upon learning about possible future benefit cuts, a majority of non-retirees also support changing the way Social Security benefits are calculated.

Although the public may support President Obama's proposal to change the way Social Security benefits are calculated, the president's health care law enjoys only tepid support. Only 32 percent of Americans say they liked the health care law when it was passed and still like it today. Seven percent liked the law when it was passed, but like it less now. Meanwhile, 45 percent disliked the health care law when it was passed and still dislike it. Four percent of Americans say they disliked the law when it passed, but like it more now.

Nationwide telephone poll conducted May 9-13 2013 interviewed 1003 adults on both mobile (503) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.7%. Princeton Survey Research Associates International executed the nationwide Reason-Rupe survey. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here. Demographics and detailed tables are available here.


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  1. The way the question is framed in the poll is very vague and dichotomized: there are several alternatives to chained CPI for lowering the cost of SS, including privatization or semi-privatization, means-testing, and many others.

    Perhaps the Dems and Repubs opposing Obama on this have a more complete picture of the relative preferences of voters on this issue than what this poll suggests?

    1. I oppose any solution that doesn’t allow me to opt out except maybe privatization. Any other solution just kicks the can down the road, I’d rather it just collapse.

      1. I’d be in favor of either privatization or means-testing — preferably both.

        If SS is to be welfare for old people, then let’s structure it that way. I don’t see it going away any time soon even in the event of a government debt crisis a la Eurozone.

        1. If SS is to be welfare for old people, then let’s structure it that way. I don’t see it going away any time soon even in the event of a government debt crisis a la Eurozone.

          Genie’s out of the bottle on that. SS hasn’t been welfare for old people for… well let’s just say 20 years because that’s how far back I can remember thinking about this particular issue.

          SS is a pan-population welfare system for anyone suffering a “disability”.

        2. Fuck means testing, it won’t be any different than now. I’ll still be paying in while getting nothing out.

    2. I was thinking the same thing.

      Are my only two choices on how to fix government profligacy a turd sandwich or a poke in the eye with a sharp stick?

  2. What a poorly written article. The term “chained CPI” is used repeatedly without ever defining the term. While I can easily Google “chained CPI” and learn how someone else defines this term, since “chained CPI” is jargon I’d like to know how the author defines the term.

    Does Reason have editors?

  3. Instead of Chained CPI, I would prefer they used change in M2.

    Of course, that has the opposite effect than changing to chained CPI, but I like my inflation calculations to be, you know, an inflation calculation.

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