March 22, 2005

Let's piss of the Dems and the FEC in one post

Straight from Ken Mehlman:

FROM: Chairman Ken Mehlman
RE: Latest Trends in the Social Security Debate
DATE: March 22, 2005

As the President and Congress have debated Social Security reform over the past couple of months, certain trends have emerged. Americans have learned more about the problems facing the current system, and thus, are more likely to recognize the need for changes in the future, including Personal Retirement Accounts. The following points are clear:

First, more people have come to understand the structural problems facing Social Security's solvency over the last two months, and thus, the issue has become more important to them. The latest Gallup poll shows that Americans think Social Security is now the most important domestic issue. At 12%, Social Security has increased by 8% since January and is a greater concern than the economy (10%), health care (9%), or terrorism (9%).

The increased importance of Social Security is confirmed by several other polls. This week's Battleground 2006 poll found Social Security (17%) as the "number one problem for the President and Congress to deal with." Also a recent Harris poll found 37% of Americans think Social Security is the most important issue for the government to address, an increase of 33% from last October when just 4% thought it was the most important issue.

Second, more Americans agree that Social Security needs strengthening. According to the recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 72% of Americans think the Social Security system is headed down the road to a crisis or will require major changes in order to head of a crisis. Even seniors believe that changes are necessary to Social Security: a recent Ayres McHenry poll found 66% of Americans over age 55 believe that Social Security needs changes. A recent Gallup poll even found a majority of Americans (51%) believe that it is necessary for Congress to pass legislation to make changes to Social Security this year.

In the past few years, according to polls conducted by the Tarrance Group, more and more Americans think the Social Security system needs major changes:

Poll Date Major Changes Modest Changes Minor Adjustment No Change
Tarrance Group 1/10-13/05 53% 31% 12% 1%
Tarrance Group 1/17-21/02 37% 33% 9% 19%
Third, as Americans hear more and more about possible reforms, support for Personal Retirement Accounts has increased. A recent Gallup survey found that 58% of Americans believe that Social Security Legislation should "include a provision that would allow people who retire in future decades to invest some of their Social Security taxes in the stock market and bonds."

Support for Personal Retirement Accounts has increased. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, fifty-six percent (56%) of Americans support allowing workers to invest some of their Social Security contributions in the stock market, while 41% oppose such an idea. The number of Americans who support PRAs has increased by a net of 6% since last December, when 53% supported the plan and 44% opposed it. This is the highest level of support for PRAs since the Post first asked the question in 2000.

Those eligible for Personal Retirement Accounts see benefits from them. According to a recent Pew poll, among those eligible for Personal Retirement Accounts, 56% believe investment would bring higher benefits; just 12% predict lower benefits and 55% would invest if given choice. Once PRAs are explained, a majority of Americans support them. According to the Democracy Corps poll, 40% of Americans support PRAs before they are explained, while 51% oppose them. However, after a plan for voluntary personal retirement accounts is explained, support rises to 54%, while 45% remain opposed.

Finally, as Americans follow the Social Security Debate, they trust President Bush more than Democrats to find a solution. According to recent polls by the Winston Group and NPR, President leads Democrats on who offers better ideas and who is working on a bipartisan basis.

Bush Advantage Winston Group NPR
Who is willing to work with both political parties to find a solution? +16 +18
Is offering the right kind of ideas? +8 +6
Who do you trust to make the right kinds of changes? +7 +8
Americans are realizing that Democrats are opposing Social Security modernization because they lack their own plans: The Democracy Corps poll also showed that 50% of Americans believe that Democrats are opposing President Bush's plans to strengthen Social Security just to block his agenda, while only 42% believe that they are opposing President Bush's plan because they have a better way to strengthen Social Security.