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Friday, March 19, 2010

What's Social Security Got to Do with It?

Peggy Denker

Staff Writer

If you watch the news on TV or read a newspaper, you know that a lot of Americans are nervous about health reform. One recent poll, conducted by Ipsos-McClatchey on February 26-28, found that 41% of Americans favor reform, while 47% oppose. And that's in line with what the media have been telling us, isn't it?

But Ipsos did something other pollsters haven't done: They asked folks WHY they oppose reform. And here's what they found: More than one-third (37%) of those who said they opposed reform reported that they oppose it because it doesn't go far enough.

Yep, you read that right. In reality, a strong majority of Americans want reform, but some of them just want more reform than the political system is offering right now.

The only comfort we can offer to those who are adamantly opposed to reform is this: Lots of people predicted the worst when Medicare was passed. And now many of those same people claim to be among Medicare's most ardent supporters.

But to those who oppose reform because they believe it doesn't go far enough, we offer the example of Social Security, which started as a tiny little program, with paltry benefits, that initially excluded many categories of workers-agricultural and domestic workers, for instance-and, as a result, left out most women and people of color. But Congress kept building on that foundation. And today,

Social Security is arguably the largest social program ever enacted in the United States. It is certainly the biggest and most effective anti-poverty program....

So if you oppose health reform because you want more of it, then take this foundation and build on it. We'll help you.