Poll finds older people more likely to see Social Security, Medicare as ‘capitalist’

A new poll shows most people see Social Security and Medicare as “capitalist” institutions, though a majority of those between the ages of 18 and 34 see Social Security, at least, as “largely socialist.”

The starkly different views come amid a broad public debate about whether to raise taxes, provide free tuition and introduce “Medicare for all” that has energized by political figures such as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)

Social Security and Medicare have long been popular government programs providing financial support and healthcare to aging Americans. 

Just over half of all voters in a Feb. 23-24 Hill-HarrisX survey said that they believed that both programs were “largely capitalist” as opposed to “largely socialist.”

Fifty-four percent called Social Security mostly capitalistic while 55 percent said the same for Medicare.

In contrast, just 44 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 said they believed that Social Security was capitalist, compared to 56 percent who said it was mostly socialist.

By contrast, 64 percent of voters 65 and older, many of whom are on Social Security, said they believe that the program is largely capitalistic. Only 36 percent said it was mostly socialistic.

Younger voters were evenly split on the topic of Medicare with 50 percent saying it is socialistic and 50 percent saying it was capitalist. Sixty-three percent of voters older than 65 said program is capitalist while only 37 percent called it socialist.

A majority of Republicans see Medicare as mostly capitalistic, 57-43 percent.

A majority of independents and Democrats agreed, but by slightly smaller margins. Fifty-four percent of independent respondents said Medicare is mostly capitalist while 53 percent of Democrats characterized it as such.

Sanders (I-Vt.), who calls himself a “democratic socialist,” has made expanding Medicare to cover all Americans the cornerstone of his 2020 Democratic presidential candidacy.

President Trump in his State of the Union address earlier this month warned of the dangers of a creeping popularity of socialism in the United States. 

—Matthew Sheffield


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