In its coverage of its new poll, the Washington Post leads
with the finding that a bare majority (53%) supports including a private accounts option with Social Security. But the totality of this poll is, I would say, fairly encouraging. When a price tag is put to the plan, support drops down to 46%, with 47% opposed. Further down we find that the number of people who think there is a "crisis" in the Social Security system is a mere 25%, down from 34% six years ago.
And there's one final tidbit in there which may be more encouraging to those who want to keep the Social Security program than it seems on the surface. While either 53% or 46% support including a private accounts option, 62% say they would not take the private account option themselves.
"Of those who said they would make such investments," continues the Post
, "only 7 percent said they would put "all" their contributions into the market, while 57 percent said 'some' and 23 percent answered 'just a little.'"
Here's why that's a big deal.
A clear majority wants real
Social Security for themselves, even if many people want the accounts option for others. Only 37% would opt for the accounts option. And even most of them don't seem altogether enthusiastic about it -- as evidenced by their not wanting to invest as much as they might in the option.
But the thing is, if private accounts are a bad idea, they're a really, really
bad idea for people who don't want to use them. Pulling money out of Social Security to fund private accounts will sharply accelerate
the stresses already on the system -- a system a clear majority of voters
appears to want to enjoy when they retire.
This poll is a road map for supporters of Social Security on how to frame their arguments.