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GOP Plan to Cut Social Security and Medicare Is Disliked Among Republican Voters

If the GOP tries to force cuts to Social Security via the debt ceiling, it would be against their own base’s wishes.

Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy conducts a news conference in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall on January 12, 2023.

New polling finds that the GOP’s plan to force cuts to Social Security and Medicare through debt ceiling legislation is vastly unpopular — even among a majority of the Republican voter base.

According to a new survey by Data for Progress, 63 percent of all voters think that House Republicans should allow the debt limit to be raised to avoid economic disaster, without executing their cynical plan to tie the legislation to cuts to the crucial social programs. This includes 78 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of independents and even 50 percent of Republicans.

This was by far the most popular response to the question of whether the GOP should force through the cuts among the Republican voters, with a mere 15 percent saying they would support a plan to attach the cuts to debt ceiling legislation. Only 24 percent of Republican respondents said that Republicans should refuse to raise the debt ceiling whatsoever — an extremist option that would drop a bomb onto the already fragile economy.

These results demonstrate that, if Republicans continue to pursue the cuts to Social Security and Medicare, they will be standing in opposition not only to what most Americans want, but also to what their own base wants.

The polling further found that a plurality of the Republican base believes that the party should make bipartisanship a priority for the debt ceiling, with 45 percent of Republicans in agreement and 42 percent saying that Republicans should prioritize “opposing Democrats.”

However, Republicans have shown time and again that they are not interested in bipartisanship — especially not as the mainstream GOP increasingly embraces fascism. Indeed, even though they only control one chamber of Congress, some Republicans have laid the groundwork to refuse to pass legislation to raise the debt limit unless it gets rid of what they describe as “waste” like Social Security and Medicare, two of the most effective anti-poverty programs in the U.S.

In essence, Republicans are using the debt limit as a bargaining chip to execute a plan that would do vast financial damage to Americans and their ability to safely retire by threatening to tank the economy through a debt default — which would also do deep financial damage to Americans and potentially sap trillions of dollars of wealth from American households.

On Friday, House Republicans were given yet another reason not to force through cuts: former President Donald Trump, who is in many ways still the de facto leader of the Republican Party, released a video warning lawmakers not to pursue the cuts. According to Politico, Trump warned Republicans: “Do not cut the benefits our seniors worked for and paid for their entire lives. Save Social Security, don’t destroy it.” He also repeated bizarre and completely fabricated conspiracy theories about the “left-wing gender programs from our military.”

It’s extremely unlikely that Trump defended Social Security out of concern for the working class’s financial health. In fact, Trump quietly laid out plans in past years to steadily defund Social Security, which would allow his fellow retirees to benefit from the program but would take that option away from future generations — while still touting his supposed support for Medicare and Social Security in public.

Rather, Trump likely spoke out of concern for the optics of the party. Social Security and Medicare have, for years, been among the most popular programs in the U.S., and while Trump’s proposed cuts flew relatively under the radar, tying them to the debt ceiling is a very public strategy.

Meanwhile, Democrats have strongly condemned Republicans’ plan to hold the economy hostage in order to force through their demands. On Friday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre warned Republicans that the debt ceiling legislation must be passed “without conditions,” and that the administration will not “be doing any negotiation” over the limit.

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