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Poll: Make wealthy pay for Soc. Sec.
Majority say high-income earners should pay Soc. Sec. tax on all their wages and get lower benefits.
February 8, 2005: 3:30 PM EST
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Play the Social Security game

ATLANTA (CNN) - Wealthier Americans should take the hit to bolster Social Security, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll conducted over the weekend and released Tuesday.

More than two-thirds of 1,010 adults contacted between Feb. 4 and Feb. 6 said it would be a "good idea" to limit benefits for wealthier retirees and to make higher income workers pay Social Security taxes on all their wages. Currently, all workers pay the tax on the first $90,000 in wages.

Other options fell far behind:

  • 40 percent said reducing benefits for early retirement is a good idea.
  • 37 percent said increasing the tax for all workers would be a good idea.
  • 35 percent said they'd support increasing the age at which people could receive full benefits.
  • And 29 percent said reducing benefits for people currently under 55 was acceptable.

Meanwhile, 55 percent think President Bush's proposal to allow future wage-earners to invest some of their Social Security taxes in private investment accounts is a "bad idea." That's the same percentage as thought so a month ago, before the president began his campaign for the plan.

Forty percent said it was a good idea in both polls. But 64 percent agree with the president that the system will be "bankrupt" by 2042 if major changes aren't made. (For a look at whether the system is really going bankrupt, click here.)

The Congressional Budget Office, the Social Security Administration and the Office of Management and Budget say the system won't be penniless, but will be unable to pay all the benefits currently promised by mid-century.

Their conservative actuarial reports estimate income from payroll taxes would cover between 70 percent and 80 percent of the necessary funds.

Those responding to the poll indicated they may have more confidence in their own investment skills than in those of most Americans.

Thirty-seven percent said they thought most Americans would get lower benefits if allowed to invest through personal accounts, while 30 percent said the benefits would be higher. Forty percent said they believed they personally would reap higher benefits, while 27 percent said they'd see lower benefits.

Of the respondents, 757 were not retired -- of those, 53 percent said they had done "some" planning for their retirement "but not enough."  Top of page


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