Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

35 Percent of Americans Want Pension Reform to be "Top Priority" for Govt

While 72 Percent of Americans Are Concerned About Funding Public Employee Pensions, Only a Third Think Reform Should be a Top Priority

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The latest Reason-Rupe poll found that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about their state and local government's ability to fund public employee pensions as currently promised. However, only 39 percent say they are "very" concerned while another 33 percent are only "somewhat concerned."

This is reflected in how Americans prioritize dealing with public employee pension reform.  Thirty-five percent say public pension reform ought to be a "top priority" for government while another 41 percent say it should be "an important but lower priority" reform. In other words, Americans are moderately concerned about public employee pensions, but have not yet been persuaded it's a crisis.

Part of the reason is that few Americans are aware public employee pensions are estimated to be underfunded up to $4 trillion dollars. (See here and here). To put this in perspective, this estimate exceeds the total amount of money the United States federal government spent in 2014—$3.5 trillion dollars.

Not surprisingly, older Americans, and are thus thinking more about retirement, and fiscal conservatives are more likely to say pension reform should be a priority.

For instance, 32 percent of private sector employees think pension reform ought to be a top priority, compared to 44 percent of retirees. Prioritization steadily increases with age, for instance, 27 percent of college-aged Americans want government to prioritize pension reform, compared to 34 percent among those 30 to 44 years old, up to 44 percent among those over 65.

Tea partiers are also 10 points more likely to prioritize pension reform—and this cannot be explained by age. Indeed, even younger tea partiers prioritize pension reform. Forty-three percent of tea party supporters want pension reform to be a top priority compared to 33 percent of non-supporters.  Find more discussion of what the public thinks about public pension reform here.

The Reason-Rupe national telephone poll, executed by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, conducted live interviews with 1003 adults on cell phones (501) and landlines (502) January 29-February 2, 2015. The poll's margin of error is +/-3.8%. Full poll results and methodology can be found here, including poll toplines (pdf) and crosstabs (xls).

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  1. 35 Percent of Americans Want Pension Reform to be “Top Priority” for Govt

    So… not enough for most politicians to even mention it– fleetingly– in the last paragraph of a speech.

    1. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $12600 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.

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  2. Polling ignorant people, what’s the point? A crisis of epic proportions and most Americans have no clue.

  3. And the other 65% work for the government.

  4. I can infer from this headline that 35% of Americans are millennials?

    1. And 72% too.

  5. Pretty much the single biggest reason taxes will continue to go up and services will decline is the decades long payouts – to retired bureaucrat paper pushers – that was never funded, and people think it’s a low priority. Of course, so long as it’s not on 60 minutes or Dateline etc etc, it is really under the consciousness. In a way, that it’s at 35% without the MSM tailoring what people are supposed to think, shows that it really is registering to some level…

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  7. Define “top priority?” The “most important,” “in the top five,” or
    “higher than messing with the internet but lower than putting a leash on Kanye West?”

  8. I have an idea.

    How about we reduce the size of government by 75% and eliminate 75% of the government jobs prior to being on the hook for the pensions of people that aren’t required anyway?

    1. I’d even accept getting rid of it for just the people who are rather actively counter-productive as a starting point.

      I’m thinking of any/all the cases where people convicted of felony while holding office/serving the public defend or sue to keep their pensions.

  9. Does pension reform implicitly include social security and Medicare? It looks like those bills are going to come due sooner than the pension crisis.

  10. Banal??vapid?.shallow?.at minimum, the words I’d use to describe my “fellow Americans”.

    Contempt is an understatement of how I view anyone at a voting precinct or the grocery store.

    I am a true Misanthrope, and I’m quite proud of it.

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  12. Governor Arnie tried to get public employee pension reform approved by the voters of California about a decade ago. Unfortunately, he received almost no help from Republican bigwigs and the initiative failed to pass. Federal Republicans are more interested in stopping gay marriage than in preventing state and local governments from being bankrupted by high pension and medical benefits. The unborn are going to be saddled with some very high tax burdens once they become the born.

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  15. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
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  16. my classmate’s mom makes $82 /hr on the laptop . She has been laid off for 7 months but last month her paycheck was $16174 just working on the laptop for a few hours. you can check here……………
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