AARP Survey: Vast Majority Over 50 Against Cutting Social Security, Medicare to Reduce Deficit

AARP Survey: Vast Majority Over 50 Against Cutting Social Security, Medicare to Reduce Deficit social security admin logo on building (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

By Theodore Bunker | Wednesday, 26 May 2021 12:36 PM

Most Americans age 50 or older are strongly against cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits in an effort to reduce the federal budget, including the vast majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, according to a recent survey from AARP.

"While older Americans care about the nation’s long-term fiscal health, we also know they want to make sure the promises made to all Americans regarding Social Security and Medicare are honored," the organization notes on its website.

"Indeed, Social Security and Medicare had little to do with the recent run-up of debt and deficits in the wake of COVID-19. In fact, Social Security provided a stable source of income, and Medicare provided critical health coverage, at a time when it was most needed. Rather than being part of the problem during the pandemic, Social Security and Medicare have been a big part of the solution. These key programs should not be seen as budgetary scapegoats for an increase in debt they did not cause."

The survey, which used NORC’s AmeriSpeak® Omnibus, found that most adults age 50 or older strongly oppose reducing the benefits provided by Social Security and Medicare to reduce the federal budget deficit, even though most said that the deficit was a big problem for the country.

Fifty-six percent in total said the deficit is a big problem, including:

  • 43% of Democrats.
  • 54% of independents.
  • 79% of Republicans.

Eighty-five percent in total are strongly opposed to cutting Social Security to lower the deficit, including:

  • 87% of Democrats.
  • 79% of independents.
  • 88% of Republicans.

Eighty-five percent in total also strongly oppose reducing Medicare benefits to lower the deficit, including:

  • 87% of Democrats.
  • 80% of independents.
  • 86% of Republicans.

Nancy LeaMond, AARP Executive Vice President and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer, said in a statement that "Older Americans overwhelmingly oppose cutting Social Security and Medicare to reduce the deficit. Proposals like the TRUST Act would give a handful of lawmakers the power to propose cuts behind closed doors with fast-track legislative consideration with minimum transparency and oversight from voters. On behalf of AARP’s nearly 38 million members, we call for full and open debate that ensures public input on protecting the future of our earned benefits. All members of Congress should be held accountable for any action on Social Security and Medicare."

AARP also notes that "Social Security is the only inflation-protected, guaranteed source of income people can count on when they retire," and "is the principal source of income for more than 34 million older households," with about "10 million individuals age 65 and older depend[ing] on it for nearly all of their income."

In addition, "Medicare provides the critical health coverage that seniors rely on and need. Over 62 million Americans are covered by Medicare, and half of all beneficiaries have less than $27,000 of income."

The poll surveyed 1,016 adults age 50 or older from across the country online and by phone from April 22 to April 26, 2021, and has a margin of error of +/-4.33 percentage points.