GOP voters divided over entitlement cuts
By Alicia M. Cohn
A Pew Research Center survey released Thursday found that Republican voters might not be as keen to cut entitlement benefits as Republican lawmakers have been in ongoing budget talks.
According to the survey, conducted nationally in June, 50 percent of Republicans say that maintaining benefits is more important than deficit reduction. This half of potential Republican voters stands in stark contrast to many Republican lawmakers who have prioritized cutting the budget deficit over preserving any benefit program.
The survey found more internal division among Republican and Republican-leaning voters than among Democrat voters when it came to entitlement reform. The majority of Democrats prioritized maintaining benefits over deficit reduction, according to the survey.
At a little over 50 percent, independents tend to side with Democrats, 72 percent of whom prioritize preserving programs such as Social Security and Medicare.
The higher the income bracket of Republican respondents, the more likely they were to say that the budget deficit should be a priority over keeping benefits.
A majority of Republicans said Medicare and Social Security have "been good for the country.” Republicans were somewhat less approving of Medicaid, with 68 percent calling it “very good/good for the country” as opposed to Democrats (91 percent) or independents (75 percent).
The results echo other recent polling that has indicated a lack of support among Americans for cutting Medicare or Social Security. Respondents to the survey mostly considered these programs to work "pretty well," with Social Security approval at 41 percent, Medicare at 38 percent and Medicaid at 39 percent.
The survey comes at a time when Democrats and Republicans are arguing over the best sources of spending to cut from the budget. The Republican budget plan has called for phasing out entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare.
The deficit talks, overshadowed by the looming debt-ceiling deadline, have stalled in part over many Democrats’ reluctance to make cuts to Social Security and Medicare. This week, the president signaled he would consider reforms for Social Security as part of a debt deal, but other Democrats including Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have maintained Social Security should be off the table.
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