Economy

Thune: Top Message I Got From Town Halls Is ‘Don’t Cut My Social Security And Medicare’

As Republican lawmakers held constituent meetings in their home districts over the August recess, they were often confronted for taking hard-right positions on everything from taxes to entitlement reform, sending a message that at least Sen. John Thune (R-SD) seems to have noticed. Thune said the main things he heard from constitutes was frustration over Congress’ inability to work together and opposition to cuts to social safety net programs, the Argus Leader reports:

“Do something,” Thune said Wednesday after a town hall meeting at the Brandon Municipal Golf Course. “Why can’t you work together? There’s a high level of frustration with the inaction, and there’s a lack of confidence in the country and the economy. They want to see us get something done.”

That’s one of the major insights he’ll take back to Washington, D.C. after the August recess, he said.

It ranks behind “don’t cut my Social Security and Medicare. I’ve heard that quite a bit,” Thune said.

It’s not surprising that Americans are voicing their concern about cuts to Medicare and Social Security, considering that the programs are overwhelmingly popular and that Republicans have threatened to cut them, most notably with the House’s passage of Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) Medicare-replacement budget. Numerous polls show Americans oppose cutting these social safety net programs as means to rein in the deficit, while 63 percent say they want to see revenue raised through increased taxes on the wealthy or with a millionaires surtax. Meanwhile, Americans are frustrated with Republican lawmakers’ intransigence grinding Congress to halt, as Thune notes.

Thune’s comments are particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has made criticism of Social Security — which he has called unconstitutional — a central part of his campaign. (HT: Rachel Weiner)