WASHINGTON -- A Republican member of Congress said this week the party wants to avoid reforming so-called entitlement programs, even though GOP leaders have repeatedly pressed for changes.
Republican demands for reforms to Social Security and Medicare, among other entitlements, may all just be political posturing, the GOP member of Congress said at a Business Roundtable breakfast on Thursday, according to Politico's Playbook. Politico didn't name the lawmaker, but published the remarks:
By the way, this notion that Republicans are all eager to reform entitlements -- folks, Democrats have it all wrong. Republicans would love to avoid the issue, politically. ... I love this poll: Tea party folks in Ohio, "Do you think your Social Security benefits should be reduced given the record debt and deficits?" 85 percent "no." ... [T]his is not an issue that anybody wants to take on, politically. It is the third rail of American politics, still. Is it easier? Yeah, probably than it was a couple of decades ago. But not much.
Republicans consistently pushed Democrats to take on entitlement reforms during the fiscal cliff negotiations. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in November that President Barack Obama had to get "serious about real reform of the entitlement programs." Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said at the time that it was impossible to "save the country" unless "we adjust the entitlement programs to fit the demographics of today's America."
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) said last week on CNN that he would support increases in revenue if Democrats support entitlement reforms. "I'm willing to raise $600 billion in new revenue, if my Democratic friends would be willing to reform entitlements and we can fix sequestration together," he said.
National polling data supports the sentiment of the unnamed Business Roundtable speaker. According to a Pew Research poll released last week, 10 percent of Americans support cuts for Social Security benefits. Only 17 percent of Republicans support reductions. In contrast, 41 percent of Americans said they support increasing spending on Social Security. Among Republicans, 35 percent said they support increases in Social Security funding.