Poll: Is It Politically Advantageous for Obama to Cut Medicare and Social Security?

Michael Catalini, Naureen Khan and Peter Bell
April 11, 2013

Is it politically advantageous for President Obama to offer Medicare and Social Security cuts in his budget?


Yes: 57%
No: 43%


“He looks reasonable and responsible. Puts the lie to the Republican demands for entitlement reform.”

“May be the only way to get a budget deal, but there will be big-time blowback from the Democratic base.”

“But only if he gets a big deal. Otherwise, it becomes the new starting point for negotiations.”

“Everyone inside the Beltway knows those programs have to be trimmed, and leaving them out would have strained credulity.”

“Depends on how you define ‘politically advantageous.’ For his legacy, yes. For Democratic candidates in 2014, no.”

“The president and the Democrats badly need a budget deal, because the president’s numbers will determine the election results in ’14.”

“The winner in politics is most often the person who seems most reasonable. The president seems to understand that better than the tea party and the Republican leadership.”


“One would think that he learned in his first term that starting in the middle doesn’t end well.”

“2014 will be a turnout election—we need an electrified base to win. We saw what happened in 2010 when the base wasn’t motivated.”

“Bad politics. Good government.”

“The president lost seniors in 2012, as he had in 2008. But even more important, he lost voters [ages] 50-64, which he had not lost [in 2008]. This makes getting those voters harder.”

“Once again, he has started negotiating before the negotiations
start. Ouch!”

“Dumb as dumb can be.”

“A significant portion of his base will wither away if he does.”

“Since the New Deal, Democrats have been the ones who stand up for working people. What gives?”



Is it politically advantageous for President Obama to offer Medicare and Social Security cuts in his budget?


Yes: 73%
No: 27%


“He needs to make at least a pass at entitlement reform to have any credibility in talking about getting to a balanced budget.”

“Finally looks like he’s fiscally responsible; and [this] allows him to triangulate and look like he’s fighting the left wing of the party on something.”

“It tells people he is serious about the budget and sets up a trade of entitlement cuts for revenues. He does not want to go down in history as the president who killed Medicare through inaction.”

“He needs to change the public perception of his stance on government spending.”

“Tough call. His base will hate it. Swing voters want to see these messes cleaned up.”

“If good policy is good politics, then not addressing the most obvious threat to our fiscal stability is bad politics.”

“Obama can win either way, politically. If a plan passes, he’s seen as having made a crucial concession to get it done. And if it doesn’t, he can further isolate Republicans going into the midterm elections.”

“The president must think of his legacy now—eight years of ignoring desperately needed entitlement reform would show an utter lack of courage.”


“Voters who support reforms in entitlement spending never supported him and never will. Why anger his base?”

“It’s the right thing to do, but he never gets the cover he needs from his entitlement-society friends in the Democratic Party, and he won’t see the fight all the way through [to a deal].”

“Can’t imagine any scenario where it helps him politically to hover over that third rail. Every one of his constituencies and the vast majority of his party will be up in arms, and it hardly makes it more likely that Republicans will work with him.”

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Democratic Political Insiders Jill Alper, John Anzalone, Brad Bannon, Dave Beattie, Andy Bechhoefer, Cornell Belcher, Matt Bennett, Mitchell W. Berger, Mike Berman, Stephanie Bosh, Paul Brathwaite, Donna Brazile, Mark Brewer, Ed Bruley, George Bruno, Bonnie Campbell, Bill Carrick, Guy Cecil, Martin J. Chavez, Tony Coelho, Larry Cohen, Jerry Crawford, Brendan Daly, Jeff Danielson, Peter Daou, Howard Dean, Scott DeFife, Jim Demers, Tad Devine, David Di Martino, Debbie Dingell, Monica Dixon, Patrick Dorton, Pat Dujakovich, Anita Dunn, Jeff Eller, Steve Elmendorf, Carter Eskew, Vic Fazio, Peter Fenn, Scott Ferson, Jim Fleischmann, Tina Flournoy, Don Foley, Jeffrey Forbes, Vincent Frillici, Gina Glantz, Niles Godes, John Michael Gonzalez, Joe Grandmaison, Anna Greenberg, Stan Greenberg, Pat Griffin, Larry Grisolano, Michael Gronstal, Lisa Grove, Marcia Hale, Jill Hanauer, Dick Harpootlian, Paul Harstad, Laura Hartigan, Doug Hattaway, Mike Henry, Karen Hicks, Leo Hindery Jr., Harold Ickes, Marcus Jadotte, John Jameson, Steve Jarding, Jonathon Jones, Jim Jordan, Gale Kaufman, Lisa Kountoupes, Celinda Lake, David Lang, Penny Lee, Chris Lehane, Jeff Link, Bob Maloney, Jim Manley, Steve Marchand, Jim Margolis, Paul Maslin, Keith Mason, Susan McCue, Gerald McEntee, Steve McMahon, Tom McMahon, Phil McNamara, David Medina, Michael Meehan, Mark Mellman, John Merrigan, Michael Monroe, Steve Murphy, Janet Napolitano, David Nassar, Marcia Nichols, John Norris, Tom Ochs, Tom O’Donnell, Jeffrey Peck, Debora Pignatelli, Tony Podesta, Jefrey Pollock, Jack Quinn, Larry Rasky, Mame Reiley, Ed Rendell, Steve Ricchetti, Will Robinson, Steve Rosenthal, David Rudd, Ryan Rudominer, John Ryan, Michael Sargeant, Stephanie Schriock, Terry Shumaker, Sean Sinclair, Phil Singer, Erik Smith, Doug Sosnik, Greg Speed, Darry Sragow, Ken Strasma, Doug Thornell, Jeffrey Trammell, Ed Turlington, Rick Wiener, James Williams, JoDee Winterhof, Brian Wolff, Jon Youngdahl, and Jim Zogby.

GOP Political Insiders Dan Allen, Stan Anderson, Gary Andres, Saulius (Saul) Anuzis, Rich Ashooh, Whit Ayres, Brett Bader, Mitch Bainwol, Brian Baker, Gary Bauer, David Beckwith, Paul Bennecke, Clark Benson, Wayne Berman, Brian Bieron, Charlie Black, Kirk Blalock, Carmine Boal, Jeff Boeyink, Ron Bonjean, Jeff Buley, Luke Byars, Nick Calio, Al Cardenas, Danny Carroll, Alex Castellanos, Ron Christie, Jim Cicconi, Jonathan Collegio, Rob Collins, Cesar Conda, Jake Corman, Scott Cottington, Jay Cranford, Greg Crist, Diane Crookham-Johnson, Fergus Cullen, Tom Davis, Mike Dennehy, Ken Duberstein, Debi Durham, Sara Fagen, Frank Fahrenkopf, John Feehery, Don Fierce, Mindy Finn, Carl Forti, Alex Gage, Bruce A. Gates, Sam Geduldig, Adam Geller, Benjamin Ginsberg, David Girard-diCarlo, Bill Greener, Jonathan Grella, Lanny Griffith, Janet Mullins Grissom, Doug Gross, Todd Harris, Steve Hart, Christopher Healy, Ralph Hellmann, Chris Henick, Terry Holt, David Iannelli, Ed Ingle, Jim Innocenzi, Clark Judge, David Keating, David Kensinger, Bob Kjellander, Ed Kutler, Chris LaCivita, Jim Lake, Steven Law, Steve Lombardo, Kevin Madden, Joel Maiola, Gary Maloney, David Marin, Mary Matalin, Dan Mattoon, Brian McCormack, Mark McKinnon, Kyle McSlarrow, Ken Mehlman, Jim Merrill, Lisa Camooso Miller, Tim Morrison, Mike Murphy, Phil Musser, Ron Nehring, Terry Nelson, Neil Newhouse, David Norcross, Ziad Ojakli, Jack Oliver, Todd Olsen, Kevin O’Neill, Connie Partoyan, Billy Piper, Van B. Poole, Tom Rath, Scott Reed, David Rehr, Tom Reynolds, Steve Roberts, Jason Roe, David Roederer, Dan Schnur, Russ Schriefer, Rich Schwarm, Brent Seaborn, Rick Shelby, Andrew Shore, Kevin Shuvalov, Don Sipple, Ken Spain, Fred Steeper, Bob Stevenson, Terry Sullivan, David Tamasi, Eric Tanenblatt, Richard Temple, Heath Thompson, Jay Timmons, Warren Tompkins, Ted Van Der Meid, Dirk van Dongen, Jan van Lohuizen, Stewart Verdery, Dick Wadhams, John Weaver, Lezlee Westine, Dave Winston, Ginny Wolfe, Fred Wszolek, and Matthew Zablud.