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Nearly Half The Public Is ‘Very Uncomfortable’ With Phasing Out Social Security For Private Accounts

By Zaid Jilani  

"Nearly Half The Public Is ‘Very Uncomfortable’ With Phasing Out Social Security For Private Accounts"

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A recently-released Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll surveyed Americans on a variety of issues, including their views on the country’s direction, their approval of the president’s handling of the economy, and what they think of Congress’ performance.

One section of the poll asked respondents how they would feel about a candidate who ran based on several different policy platforms. Respondents then replied whether they were enthusiastic about the platform, comfortable with it, had reservations about it, were very uncomfortable with the position, if it made no difference, or they weren’t sure. The results were listed numerically responding to each category from left to right.

The two issues that netted the highest “uncomfortable” rating from poll respondents were Bush’s economic policies and Social Security privatization. 39 percent of those polled responded that they’d be uncomfortable with voting for a candidate who supported the economic polices of former president George W. Bush. But the position that provoked the highest level of opposition was supporting “phasing out Social Security and instead [supporting] allowing workers to invest their Social Security contributions in the stock market,” with 49 percent of respondents saying the position made them “very uncomfortable“:

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While the poll shows that only 21 percent of the public is “enthusiastic” or “comfortable” with slowly privatizing Social Security, there are a number of leading Republican officeholders who have endorsed the concept of doing so. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the “ranking member on the House Budget Committee,” has put together a road map for privatizing the program that is similar to President Bush’s failed 2005 plan. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) has also indicated that he’d like to revive the Bush effort. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has talked about the need to “wean” Americans off the program.

Meanwhile, a number of leading Republicans running for office have also endorsed radical plans to privatize the program. Both Pennsylvania Republican senate candidate Pat Toomey and Rand Paul have endorsed at least partially privatizing Social Security. Nevada Republican senate candidate Sharon Angle has called for the program to be “phased out,” and Alaska Republican senate candidate Joe Miller has gone even further, declaring that the program is simply unconstitutional.

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