Hands off Social Security

That’s what people are saying:

Voters last week sent Washington a strong message about fixing the federal budget, according to exclusive numbers from a new poll obtained by TPM: Raise taxes on the wealthy and cut the military budget before you touch the nation’s largest entitlement program, Social Security.

The survey of voters who cast ballots last Tuesday — conducted by Democratic pollster PPP and commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee — found that when respondents were given the choice between cutting the defense budget, raising taxes on the wealthy and cutting Social Security to reduce the deficit, just 12% said they’d like to see the entitlement program cut. Forty-three percent said they’d prefer to see taxes on the wealthy go up, and 22% said cutting the huge defense budget was the best way to go.

The PCCC hailed the result as evidence that voters are not ready to embrace the conservative economic agenda, even after they just voted a huge number of new conservatives into Congress.

“This polling is remarkable,” PCCC co-founder Stephanie Taylor said. “If Democrats compromise on tax cuts for the wealthy, or entertain for one minute the idea of cutting Social Security, it would be both a policy disaster and a monumental political blunder — and they’d risk losing the Senate and maybe even the White House in 2012.”

The partisan breakdown of the results shows that Republicans, Democrats and independents agree that cutting Social Security is the least acceptable option of the three presented in the poll. It came in third among all respondents who made a choice. But the plurality of independents and Republicans said they didn’t know which option is best — 36% of Republicans said they were “not sure” which to choose among the three and 35% of independents said the same thing. Among the total sample, 23% said they were unsure.

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