Bloomberg poll: Privatizing Medicare and Social Security on the table?

Bloomberg buries the lede in a story about a poll reflecting the already obvious public pessimism about the economy:

Almost three in five say privatization of the Medicare program, with assistance for low-income seniors, should be considered when lawmakers discuss how to close the budget gap. A majority, though, oppose raising the age at which people can start receiving Medicare benefits.

Americans are narrowly against lawmakers considering Social Security privatization as a means to reduce the deficit. Forty-eight percent say that should be off the table versus 44 percent who want the possibility looked at. Almost three in four favor lawmakers studying removal of the Social Security tax cap so wages over $107,000 a year are taxable.

It is no surprise to find a majority in favor of taxing someone else, but the numbers on privatizing Medicare and Social Security are eye-popping. After all, we are only two years past a financial panic that saw the equity in private retirement plans melting significantly on a daily basis. Granted, such numbers could well shift in the face of Democratic demagogy. On the other hand, Bloomberg did not report the partisan breakdown of their sample; the poll’s generic ballot put Democrats ahead 42/40, which seems more than charitable to Dems when compared to the Real Clear Politics average putting the GOP +8.

The immediate implication of these numbers is that the usual, last-ditch, Democratic attacks on GOP candidates over Social Security will likely fail to gain the traction they have in past cycles. Moreover, Rep. Raul Ryan now has more reason to say to his colleagues that “the water’s not so bad” when it comes to considering his Roadmap for America’s Future. And House Speaker hopeful John Boehner will have less of an excuse to avoid having an “adult conversation” about our public debt.