A new Fox News poll Thursday provided a news flash for Republicans: Voters overwhelmingly prioritize “continuing to fund” Social Security and Medicare at their current levels over “reducing the federal budget deficit.”
In the poll, fully 71% of registered voters felt it was more important to fund the two programs at current levels than to reduce the deficit, which 26% of respondents said was most important.
While strong support for funding two of the country’s most popular programs isn’t exactly surprising, movement on the issue over the last decade is indeed notable. When Fox asked the question in 2013, just 54% said “keep the programs untouched,” while 40% prioritized reducing the federal deficit. 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.
Voters also largely back Democrats' preferred method of reducing the deficit—taxing the rich. Given seven different options for deficit reduction, 68% chose increasing taxes on $400,000-plus income earners, and 63% backed increasing taxes on businesses and corporations. The only option that tested better was 70% support for giving younger Americans the option of private retirement accounts.
The poll is a case study of why President Joe Biden squared up against Republicans on Social Security cuts earlier this year during his State of the Union address. Republicans were loath to be called out on the matter and quickly denied the notion that they were considering slashing the programs despite the fact that many Republicans had publicly advocated for such cuts.
But as usual, Republicans have no one but themselves to thank for yet again being wildly out of step with voters. After whipping up Tea Party hysteria over the federal deficit during Barack Obama’s tenure, voters eventually grew wise to the fact that the real aim of Republicans’ deficit reduction talk was cutting popular government programs that many Americans depend on to make ends meet, such as Social Security and Medicare.
In fact, the Fox survey noted a double-digit reduction in how many voters now view the national debt as a “crisis,” from 40% in 2013 to 28% now.
Republicans’ public support for slashing Social Security and Medicare, along with their voting record on the issue, provides a target-rich environment for Democrats heading into 2024. President Biden literally shamed them into standing down on the issue during the SOTU, but many Republicans—and even the party—can still be called out for supporting those cuts in the very recent past and perhaps having voted for such cuts.
None other than a Trump-aligned super PAC recently took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for votes he took as a Congressman in 2013-2015 in an ad that easily could have been written by a Democratic operative. If Team Trump deems that a drag in the 2024 Republican primary, just imagine what a killer it would be in the general election.
Our planned Ukraine episode will have to wait, as Donald Trump is being arraigned in New York City for his role in falsifying records to hide hush money paid to Stormy Daniels. This is the first of a potential slew of indictments coming Trump’s way, and we are here for a celebration of karmic justice—and to talk about what happens to the Republican Party after this.