A crisis, no; real solutions, yes

By Tim Grieve

Published February 2, 2005 2:38PM (EST)

A new poll out this morning shows that George Bush has fertile ground for his arguments about a Social Security "crisis," but it also suggests he has a lot of work to do before Americans accept his privatization plans.

Quinnipiac University reports that, while only 17 percent of Americans believe that Social Security is in crisis, 50 percent more believe that the program has "major problems." Only 29 percent of voters under 40 expect Social Security benefits to be there for them when they retire.

That's good news for Bush as he prepares for tonight's State of the Union address, a speech in which he'll argue that Social Security is in trouble and needs a major fix. The poll results are more mixed when it comes to the non-fix fix that Bush has in mind. While 58 percent of voters under 40 say they would like to invest a portion of Social Security taxes in stocks if they cold, a slim majority of older voters say they would not.

And the poll shows that Americans are broadly and solidly opposed to the unhappy changes that Bush's plan would likely force on the system. Sixty-seven percent oppose increasing the retirement age; 81 percent oppose reducing benefits.

There's also broad support for a simple fix that would actually address the "crisis" Bush predicts: By a margin of 69-27 percent, respondents said that the government should take in more money for Social Security by raising the $90,000 cap on income subject to the Social Security tax.

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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