Tax and Medicare poll results that may have Repubs squirming today

The public is in a lousy mood. Pres. Obama’s approval ratings are at or near the lowest point of his term. But he still keeps outpolling all of the Repub presidential candidates in ridiculously premature trial heat polls. In a new Wash Post poll out today, respondents were equally divided on whether they trust Obama or the Republicans in Congress to strike the right balance in restraining federal spending.

But — with all the usual warnings about relying on polls in general, polls 19 months before Election Day even moreso, and polls with untested question wording that rely on the respondents understanding of complex arguments moreso than moreso – there are two questions in that Post poll that could have Republicans peeing their pants this morning – or maybe just crossing their legs a little more frequently than usual.

In one question (really series of questions) the Post offered respondents five ideas for reducing the national debt. Four of the five were unpopular but the two that were most unpopular were “cutting spending on Medicare” (78 percent opposed) and “cutting spending on Medicaid” (69 percent opposed). Also unpopular, but not as much, were cuts to military spending and a broad tax increase tied to small changes in entitlement spending.

There was only one proposal of the five that received majority support, and it was overwhelming — 72 to 27 percent support. That one was “Raising taxes on incomes over $250,000.”

The second challenge to Repub continence/incontinence spectrum was caused by this Post poll question:

“What is your view about the future of Medicare for Senior citizens?

It should remain a program of defined benefits.


It should be changed to a program where people receive a check or voucher to shop for private health insurance.”

The first answer, which represents the Dem position, received 65 percent support. The second answer, which purports to summarize the plan authored by Repub Budget Chair Paul Ryan and embraced by almost all House Repubs in a vote last week, received 34 percent support.

The Ryan idea is relatively new to most Americans. There will be big arguments about how to describe it accurately (although the Post poll did not adopt any of the highly-charged words that Dems will use, like “privatize” or phrases like “end Medicare as we know it.”) And who knows what various respondents think it meant by “a program of defined benefits.” Perhaps they are just responding – and responding negatively – to any change in Medicare’s structure.

But the frame that Obama has constructed for the basic choice that America will have to make is something like this: Would you rather cut Medicare or raise taxes on rich people?

At the moment, based on this poll, if the choices are posed that way, the answer isn’t even close.

And when Dems start to really have some fun portraying Repubs’ plans for Medicare, it might look something like this trial ad being floated by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee:

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Comments (16)

  1. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/20/2011 - 02:27 pm.

    One set of demographics gets Republicans nominated; another will (or won’t) get them elected.

  2. Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 04/20/2011 - 02:39 pm.

    That ad is brilliant.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/20/2011 - 03:25 pm.

    Love the ad, especially “…Missed a spot…”

    As for bladder pressure, it’s OK with me if Republicans have to wear diapers for a generation, or until they’ve learned that we’re no longer in the 17th century, and that Ayn Rand’s “Objectivism” is a recipe for economic and social catastrophe. Most Republicans have richly earned every bit of opprobrium that comes their way.

  4. Submitted by John Reinan on 04/20/2011 - 06:15 pm.

    In her later years, when she was dying of lung cancer, Rand collected both Medicare and Social Security.

  5. Submitted by will lynott on 04/20/2011 - 08:04 pm.

    What? You think they care what the American people think? Why do you think that?

  6. Submitted by Mark Heuring on 04/21/2011 - 06:04 am.

    What people think might matter in this election, but a Washington Post poll from 2011 won’t help anyone pay for Medicare in 20 years. There’s going to be cuts in the program. We can start making them now, or someone else will do them later. Our choice.

  7. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/21/2011 - 08:37 am.

    None of this country’s problems will ever be solved as long as partisans applaud the lies that are told about the proposed solutions as brilliant politics.

    The irony is that those fighting for the status quo are the ones who will most suffer the consequences of their short-sightedness and people like me won’t be affected by it regardless.

  8. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 04/21/2011 - 09:28 am.

    If by ‘raising taxes on those above $250k’ means going back to the Clinton era tax rates, then we cut the deficit by a whopping 5%. As a stand alone solution this simply isn’t a serious proposal.

  9. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/21/2011 - 09:31 am.

    This morning, United Health Group announced a profit of $1.4 billion dollars in the first quarter.

    Do the math, 1.4 billion, divided by 3 months a per quarter and an average monthly premium of $1000.

    The result?

    Either almost 500,000 people had their entire health insurance premium go to United Health’s profits.

    Or, United Health’s profits could have funded health insurance for almost 500,000 uninsured people.

    And these are the companies which will be efficient in delivering the Ryan plan?

    Private health insurers have been in the drivers seat for decades. Decades which have seen ever-accelerating health care costs.

    ‘Effing delusional.

  10. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/21/2011 - 09:35 am.

    Another poll:

    The government-blasting Tea Party doesn’t want any changes to two of the government’s biggest programs.

    The vast majority of Tea Party supporters – 70% – oppose cuts to Medicare and Medicaid, a new McClatchy-Marist poll found.

    The results are somewhat in line with the feelings of registered voters as a whole – 80% oppose proposed cuts to those entitlements.

    But it is something of a surprise for Tea Partiers, whose political platform is built on the principles of slashing government spending.

    Medicare and Medicaid are among the country’s most expensive programs, and their projected growth is largely responsible for expanding deficit projections.

    The poll revealed 92% of Democrats, 73% of Republicans and 75% of independents also oppose the cuts.

    (end quote)

  11. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 04/21/2011 - 10:49 am.

    The “Status Quo” that cannot and WILL not stand if our nation is to survive is the current one…

    in which regular people do all the work,…

    and the top 10% collect all the money;…

    where those with all the money – those who would absolutely not miss it if they had to pay Reagan-era taxes, pay far less (by percentage of income),…

    than those with far less income, who can’t afford to make up the deficit caused by the rich welshing on their societal responsibilities;…

    were we borrow from China the money required to protect the fabulously wealthy from tax increases.

    The recipe for national salvation? Let the fabulously wealthy all “go Galt.”

    Our nation will be far better off without all these freeloading leeches sucking up all the money,…

    And they’ll kill each other off in their new little “paradise” just as soon as they start trying to decide who’s to blame when things go wrong and who’s going to be in charge.

  12. Submitted by Paul Landskroener on 04/21/2011 - 11:30 am.

    Will you please get off the if-we-do-nothing-such-and-such-will-happen kick? No one doubts that something must be done; the debate is over what must be done, and who will bear the burden of the changes.

    On the one side, costs are cut by reducing benefits to those who have the least, those with more than they need a little more.

    On the other side, costs will be reduced through more rational policies and better management and those with the most will pay a little more.

    I’m on the other side, but let’s at least debate the real choices.

  13. Submitted by Eric T on 04/21/2011 - 11:38 am.

    The election horse race is a separate issue from the deficit problem. The polls might help you decide who will win the elections, but polls won’t solve the problem of the deficit. Maybe our democracy isn’t good at being fiscally responsible. If we vote to raise taxes on the rich, will that close the deficit? We’ve voted to spend more than we’ve been willing to pay for.

    Just a note about the tone of the article – I don’t think you need to talk about politicians peeing in their pants. Rush Limbaugh does that. I thought Minnpost was suppose to be better journalism?

  14. Submitted by Rich Crose on 04/21/2011 - 12:32 pm.

    What I don’t get is that Republicans and Tea Partiers plan to replace Medicare with a system of vouchers for seniors to purchase private health insurance but they are adamantly opposed to Obama’s health care plan that gives everyone vouchers to purchase private health insurance.

    Don’t they know that private insurers will turn down every senior citizen for a pre-existing condition? They’re old.

  15. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/21/2011 - 03:08 pm.

    The real answer (at least to the medical costs part of the problem) is to take private insurance companies out of the health care loop, following the example of the rest of the civilized world.

    A modest proposal:
    devote the difference between the 20% private insurance administrative costs (much of it devoted to denying claims) and the 4% government (VA) administrative costs to research aimed at reducing costs and improving health by developing new AND identifying existing medical treatments.
    A vital part of this process is the basic research necessary to understand biological processes, including the behavioral ones behind poor lifestyle choices.

  16. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/21/2011 - 07:33 pm.

    To understand how the Ryan plan WOULD privatize Medicare and increase the cost to seniors to the point where many would have to go without insurance altogether, please (please) read the Republican bill now on offer in the Minnesota legislature. It would replace MinnesotaCare, which is funded by a 2% provider tax and premiums based on ability to pay. A good program it would be a shame to lose.

    The state would make a “contribution” via a voucher for Minnesotans to use in purchasing private insurance. One policy per family member. Out-of-pocket spending on co-pays, deductibles and out of network care until the out of pocket maximum you set (the higher it is, the lower your premium) at $3000, $6000, $9000 or $12,000 per policy is reached. Only at that point will the insurance policy pay 100% of the cost of care — for that person only.

    Talk about being priced out of health care! Words like “privatization” are the honest and true description of Ryan’s goal and the goal of right-wing members of our legislature.

    See HF8 (Healthy Minnesota Contribution Program)for the voucher plan.

    And compare it to SF8/HF51 for the Minnesota Health Plan, a plan that assures all Minnesota residents the care they and the doctors of their choice determine necessary, no copays,deductibles or networks. Publicly funded with tax dollars but privately delivered by providers who would have only one insurer’s forms and procedures to deal with.

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