Americans Take Partisan View of Medicare Bill

Americans are just as likely to think the Medicare (search) bill recently signed by President George W. Bush is bad for senior citizens as they are to think it is good. The bill is largely viewed through a political lens with Democrats believing it is bad for seniors and Republicans believing it is good. Senior citizens themselves are among the most skeptical of the bill.

The latest Fox News national poll conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search) on December 3-4, just prior to Bush signing the Medicare bill, found 31 percent of Americans think the bill is “bad” for seniors, 30 percent think it is “good,” 14 percent expect the results to be “mixed” and 25 percent are “not sure” what effect the bill will have.

Democrats are more than twice as likely to think the bill is bad (47 percent) for seniors than they are to think it is good (20 percent). Conversely, Republicans are nearly three times as likely to think the bill is good (43 percent to 15 percent). Among independents, 29 percent think it is bad for seniors and 27 percent think it is good.

A plurality of Americans (41 percent) over age 65 thinks the bill is bad for seniors, while less than one-quarter (23 percent) think it is good.

Allowing citizens to invest privately a portion of their Social Security (search) contributions is a less contentious issue. Two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) think people should have the choice to invest privately up to five percent of their Social Security contributions. Senior citizens are the least likely to think Americans should be given this option (49 percent), while those under age 30 are the most likely to support private investments of Social Security (76 percent).

Majorities of Democrats (60 percent) and Republicans (76 percent) favor allowing private investment of up to five percent of Social Security contributions.

Over half of Americans (57 percent) would invest a small percentage of their Social Security privately, if they were given the option. Americans most likely to do so include those between the ages 30 and 45 (70 percent), individuals earning over $75,000 (69 percent), and Republicans (68 percent).

Younger Americans have less faith that Social Security will be provided for them in retirement than their older counterparts. Nearly one-third of Americans (31 percent) under the age of 45 do not expect to receive Social Security benefits after they retire.

Polling was conducted by telephone December 3-4, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.  

1. Based on what you’ve read or heard about the Medicare bill that was recently passed by Congress, do you think it will be good for senior citizens or bad for senior citizens?

1. Good 30%
2. Bad 31
3. (Mixed) 14
4. (Not sure) 25

2. Do you think people should have the choice to invest privately up to five percent of their Social Security contributions or not?

Yes No (Not sure)
3-4 Dec 03 67% 23 10
14-15 May 02* 66% 25 9

*Wording: “. . . to invest privately a small amount of . . .”

3. If you had the choice today, do you think you would invest privately a small percentage of your own Social Security money?

Would Would not (Not sure)
3-4 Dec 03 57% 34 9
14-15 May 02* 58% 34 8

*Wording: “. . . privately invest some of. . .”

4. Do you expect to receive Social Security benefits after you retire?

Yes No (Already
3-4 Dec 03 60% 17 20 3
     Age under 30 58% 36 1 5
     30-45 64% 30 1 5
     46-55 75% 18 4 3
     56-64 73% 6 17 4
     Over 65 32% 3 65 -
14-15 May 02 63% 16 18 3