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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Should Address Younger Voter Concerns About Social Security

Republicans have been threatening to undermine Social Security for Decades. Thus far, they haven”t been able to do much because the program is extraordinarily popular. Yet their threats have had an effect. Today, many younger voters are skeptical about the program’s solvency, and what it means for their future economic security.

In “Nearly half of Gen Zers think they won’t ‘get a dime’ in Social Security,” Aris Folley writes at The Hill that “Almost half of Generation Z adults said they don’t expect to get any of the Social Security benefits they’ve earned, according to a survey.” Further,

In a survey released Tuesday by the Nationwide Retirement Institute, 45 percent of Gen Z adults between the ages of 18 to 26 said they expect to not “get a dime” of the benefits they have earned.

Additionally, 39 percent of millennials said the same, compared to 25 percent of Gen X adults and 10 percent of baby boomers who agreed.

More older Americans also expressed concern that Social Security could run out of funding in their lifetimes, with 75 percent of respondents aged 50 and older sharing that concern in the survey, up 9 percent from roughly a decade ago.

Regarding the future financing of Social Security, Folley adds, “In the new survey, less than a fourth of respondents backed increasing funding through payroll taxes. Instead, 49 percent of respondents pushed for tax increases on higher earners to pay for the program….Forty-one percent also said they supported increasing funding through taxes paid by employers, compared to 40 percent who also pushed for less taxation and 24 percent who wanted to see the age of eligibility lowered.” Also,

The survey found less support among respondents when it came to some changes tightening eligibility, with only 19 percent saying they support raising the full retirement age, while just 9 percent backed a gradual reduction of benefits that would most affect younger generations.

Only 6 percent of respondents support reducing benefits across the board.

….Gen Z, millennial, and Gen X respondents were more likely than boomers and older respondents in the survey to say they have or “will have retirement accounts and savings as additional sources of retirement income beyond Social Security benefits.”

The implications for Democratic strategy are pretty clear; Democrats must repeatedly assure younger voters that Democrats will fight to secure Social Security benefits at every opportunity. Dems must also remind voters that Republicans have been threatening to weaken the program for decades, but their threats will become a reality only if the GOP wins a 2/3 majority of both houses of congress, or a majority of both houses of congress plus the presidency.

The Democratic Party should remind all voters that it was Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt’s leadership, which made Social Security a reality in the first place. Democrats have protected it ever since then, and every expansion of Social Security benefits has been achieved through the leadership of Democrats, who will lead the fight for all future improvements in the program.

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