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New Study Finds Broad Bipartisan Support for Social Security Fixes

What You Need to Know

  • Large bipartisan majorities favored options that would eliminate most of the Social Security shortfall.
  • Most respondents favored raising the retirement age.
  • Most supported cutting benefits for top earners and a higher threshold for wages subject to payroll tax.

Large majorities of surveyed U.S. voters favor options for reforming Social Security — including boosting revenue, reducing benefits for high-income earners and raising the full retirement age — that together would eliminate most of the government retirement program’s projected shortfall, according to a new study.

Wide support for the changes cross party lines.

The University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, in a public policy consultation conducted earlier this year, briefed 2,545 Americans on issues facing Social Security, offered them different policy options, gave the pro and con arguments and asked the participants to choose solutions for reforming the program, as policymakers would.

“The degree of bipartisanship is really striking,” said Steven Kull, director of the school’s  Program for Public Consultation, who presented the findings Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “There was basically bipartisan agreement on every proposal.”

All majority-supported proposals combined would reduce the anticipated Social Security shortfall by 78% and delay by decades the Social Security Trust Fund’s insolvency, now projected for 2035. These include certain proposals that would raise benefits and therefore add to the shortfall.

Large bipartisan majorities supported a set of proposals that would cut the projected Social Security shortfall by 95%, according to the study, which engaged with a respondent sample provided by Nielsen Scarborough.

When participants looked through the proposals, Kull said, “they actually did find a lot of common ground.”

Participants were given options to raise the full retirement age, increase the payroll tax, raise the amount of wages subject to payroll tax, cut benefits for high-income earners, increase the minimum benefit for those who have worked for 30 years, boost benefits for those 85 and older, and enhance benefits by changing cost-of-living adjustments to reflect items older people tend to buy.



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