Republicans are never going to stop plotting against Social Security, but they have gotten a little more savvy over the years in how they talk about their plotting. Since President George W. Bush declared in 2005 that he was going to use the “political capital” he gained from his reelection to dismantle Social Security and privatize it, the GOP has been more measured in its approach. That’s for good reason: Democrats reclaimed both the House and Senate in 2006. The GOP might just be setting itself up for another electoral whupping with this latest push.
They now want to focus the pain on Gen Z, because what Republican doesn’t relish a little generational warfare against those damned kids? Raising the retirement age for people now in their 20s is all the rage among would-be 2024 Republican hopefuls. Nikki Haley and Mike Pence are both talking about raising the retirement age for people just starting out in their careers. Pence has even floated the idea of private savings accounts for those workers as a sweetener, and because that’s been the goal of their scheming all along: to divert all that sweet old-age insurance money into their wealthy hedge fund-owner friends’ pockets.
The problem for the GOP is that the idea remains really unpopular with all voters, of all ages. A new Demand Progress poll, first reported at Semafor, shows that a large plurality of voters over age 45 are opposed to any hike in the retirement age—a full 48% of them. In fact, 40% think the current retirement age of 67 is too high and should be lowered, and only 8% back hiking the retirement age. For younger voters, the sentiment is even stronger, with 54% saying the current retirement age should be lowered.
RELATED: Voter response to GOP obsession with cutting Social Security, Medicare: Get lost
Republicans are trying to present their anti-Social Security plots as “saving” Social Security, attempting to cast the GOP as the party that really cares about the future of the program. They’re also trying to reassure the people they count as their base—i.e. older voters—that they won’t feel any of the pain from the “reforms” they are suggesting. This is an admission that what they’re talking about is cuts—just cuts that older voters won’t have to worry about. When Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan were trying to take the White House, they used a similar ploy, insisting that nothing they were proposing would affect current retirees, only people who were then in their early 50s.
The Demand Progress poll is by no means an outlier. As Kerry Eleveld reported last week, a recent Fox News poll showed the same support for the program just as it is. In fact, a whopping 82% of respondents in that poll are opposed to raising the retirement age. Overall support for the program has grown in the past decade, according to Fox News polling, with 71% agreeing that it is more important to fund the program with no changes than to reduce the deficit (26%).
“When Fox asked the question in 2013, just 54% said ‘keep the programs untouched,’ while 40% prioritized reducing the federal deficit,” Eleveld wrote. “That’s a net turnaround of roughly 60 points in the last decade toward the position that Democrats hold on continuing to fully fund the programs.”
The GOP’s basic premise—that they can keep pushing these cuts and minimize damage to their electoral prospects by just picking on the kids—is obviously wrong. But if they want to motivate more young people to vote, well, they should go right ahead with these plans.
Young voters have already chosen their side: the Democrats. From abortion to gun safety to student loans, Republicans are digging their demographic hole ever deeper.
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Young people voted in large numbers—largely for Democrats
Progressives scored a monumental victory in Wisconsin Tuesday night when Janet Protasiewicz flipped a pivotal seat on the state Supreme Court, and we've got plenty to say about it on this week's episode of The Downballot. Not only are the electoral implications deeply worrisome for Republicans, the court's new liberal majority has the chance to revive democracy in the Badger State by restoring abortion rights and striking down gerrymandered GOP maps. It truly is a new day—and one we've long awaited—in Wisconsin.
We're also delving into the fascinating politics of Alaska with our guest this week, former state Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. Jonathan recounts his unlikely journey to the state House after winning a huge upset while still in college before explaining how Democrats, independents, and even a few Republicans forged a remarkable cross-partisan governing coalition. We also get an on-the-ground view of what Mary Peltola's stunning special election victory last year looked like to Alaska Democrats.