To hell with what those polls say, Brit Hume doesn't think there will be any or only minor blowback for any politician that proposes making cuts to Social Security and hopes the President brings it up in his State of the Union Address. Heaven forbid Hume didn't have the same hopes for the cuts to military spending that those same polls show the public does favor.
WALLACE: I want to pick up on what you just said about the fact that people don't want their spending cut. There was a very interesting poll in "The New York Times" this week which showed people absolutely, in general, favor cutting spending, just not in areas that directly affect them.
People were asked which would they be willing to cut? Twenty-one percent said Medicare. Thirteen percent said Social Security. Fifty- five percent said the military. And when asked about changes to Social Security, 18 percent backed raising the retirement age, eight percent chose cutting benefits in the future, 66 percent said cut benefits for those with higher incomes.
HUME: I think, Chris, the problem with some of this polling is that it carries the suggestion that those who are currently receiving benefits, Medicare and Social Security, would see those benefits reduced. In fact, however, nearly all the plans that I've heard in advance to try to rein in the spending on those program deals with future retirees and future benefits --
WALLACE: But this question in The Times --
HUME: I saw that.
WALLACE: Let me finish. This question in The Times talked about cutting benefits for future retirees, not for current retirees.
HUME: I understand. But nearly everybody voting on it -- I mean, that includes the whole pool of potential -- was it all adults? I don't remember whether it was, or whether it was registered voters or whoever.
WALLACE: No, it was all adults.
HUME: Yes, all adults. Well, a poll of all adults I don't think are terribly useful.
And I will tell you this -- you talk to anybody under the age of 50 these days about Social Security and Medicare; particularly Social Security, and whether they're going to get their benefits, they virtually all expect they won't see anything. So, are they ready for some reduced benefit? I think they are.
And I think if you do that, raise the retirement age, reduce the benefits for those who are not yet receiving them, that will pass. And the political blowback will be very minor indeed.
WALLACE: Juan, what do you make of that? I mean, I'm struck that 55 percent said don't cut Medicare, don't cut Social Security. They want to cut the military.
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I appreciate Brit's position. He's saying, look, there is a way out of the forest here, people can come to some common ground. I think you're going to hear some of that logic from President Obama on Tuesday.
But the fact is that when you put these things on the table and you say to people there are going to be cuts involved, guess what? The seniors say don't touch it. They don't believe that you're not going to cut it. I mean, that's exactly the fear.
HUME: I know, but if you do it, and they still get their benefits, they'll believe it then.
WILLIAMS: And that's exactly the fear tactic that Republicans played on in talking about death panels and all --
WALLACE: Let Mara in here.
LIASSON: Yes, there is a problem, that Republicans are now on record saying that not one hair on Medicare's head should be touched. That was their position in health care. However, if there was real bipartisan leadership, and the deficit commission laid out the path to this, and if President Obama and Senator Coburn and Jim DeMint wanted to get together and try do this, there is a way to do this.
WALLACE: All right. We're going to leave it there for now.