CNN Poll: Majority gives thumbs down to Ryan plan
June 1st, 2011
01:44 PM ET
12 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority gives thumbs down to Ryan plan

Washington (CNN) - A new national poll indicates that a majority of Americans don't like what they've heard so far about congressional Republicans' plans to change Medicare.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, a majority also don't think the GOP has cooperated enough with President Barack Obama and, for the first time since they won back control of the House last November, the number of Americans who say that Republican control of the chamber is good for the country has dropped below the 50 percent mark.

The poll indicates that 58 percent of the public opposes the Republican plan on Medicare, with 35 percent saying they support the proposal. The survey's Wednesday release comes as the president met with House Republicans to discuss, among other things, Medicare reform.

The House Republican 2012 budget, authored by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, passed the chamber in April without a single Democratic vote and included a proposal to overhaul Medicare. Under the plan, the government would no longer directly pay medical costs for those 55 and younger, but instead would offer subsidies for seniors to use to get private health insurance coverage.

"Half of those we questioned say that the country would be worse off under the GOP Medicare proposals and 56 percent think that GOP plan would be bad for the elderly," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Opposition is highest among senior citizens, at 74 percent, suggesting that seniors are most worried about changes to Medicare even if those changes are presented as ones that would not affect existing Medicare recipients."

"A majority of all demographic groups don't favor the GOP Medicare proposals," Holland adds. "That includes conservatives - 54 percent of them don't like the plan. As a result, rank-and-file Republicans are split right down the middle, with 48 percent favoring the GOP plan and 50 percent opposed."

The poll is another sign that the House Republicans’ Medicare proposal could be politically damaging to the party. Last week the Democrats won a special election to fill a vacant House seat in New York's 26th congressional district, which the GOP held for over a generation. The Ryan Medicare plan became a major issue in the race, with both the Democratic and Republican candidates, the party committees and outside organizations spending millions of dollars to run ads that focused on Medicare.

Democrats say their victory is proof the House GOP plan is unpopular with Americans, and see the results in New York 26 as a testing ground for next year's elections. But national Republicans disagree, saying the reason they lost the contest was due to the inclusion of the third party candidate, a former Democrat who ran as a so-called tea party candidate.

Last year, GOP leaders repeatedly attacked the health care reform law pushed through by Obama and congressional Democrats, arguing that it would weaken Medicare. Republican congressional candidates crushed their Democratic counterparts among voters age 65 and older in the midterms, carrying seniors by a 21-point margin, which helped the GOP win back the House with a 63-seat net gain.

Has the debate over Medicare made the public regret the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections, which put the GOP in charge of the U.S. House?

"Overall, a plurality still says that GOP control of the House is good for the country, but the margin on that question has narrowed from a 52 to 39 percent margin in November to just a 48 to 44 percent margin now," adds Holland.

And by roughly that same margin, Americans want Obama to have more influence over the direction the nation takes in the next few years, a view that has remained unchanged since the start of the year.

"The results of those two questions, taken together, suggest that in the 2010 election voters wanted to give the GOP enough power to act as a check on the Democrats, but did not vote to give the GOP a mandate to enact its entire agenda," says Holland.

The poll also indicates that most Americans continue to believe that Obama is doing enough to cooperate with the Republicans in Congress. But fewer than three in ten say that congressional Republicans are doing enough to cooperate with the president.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted May 24 through May 26, with 1,007 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

Filed under: CNN Polls • Congress • Paul Ryan • Polls • Republicans
soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. D

    Ah, but of course, all that unfavorableness is just because "people don't understand" the plan right. Yup!

    June 1, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. ThinkAgain

    We've all seen what GOPers do with extra cash: They turned the Clinton surplus into a deficit and nearly tanked the global economy.

    Privatizing Medicare would simply result in a very few people making bundles of money while the elderly and disabled would get screwed.

    June 1, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Blackman in America

    WHO in there right mind would accept these stupid, selfish, childish and TRIFLIN proposals? GOP has no regard whatsoever for the working class in America only the wealthy people get their ear. SAD, this country is made up of many people and guess what CONGRESS you according to the law are there to represent ALL of them not just the ones who look like your triflin A$$!

    June 1, 2011 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. IEK

    I like how the Republican Medicare plan is basically Obamacare for seniors. Get rid of single payer plan and put all future seniors onto private plans that they select from the Exchanges created by Obamacare, and the government just gives them a subsidy on the premium costs. So after telling us for more than a year that Obamacare will bring about the destruction of American healthcare, the solution to rising Medicare costs is... Obamacare?

    June 1, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Laverne

    I do agree something has to be done about the rising cost of Medicare, but the plan Ryan is proposing is not well thought out at all and it feels more like republicans playing games to make the American people think they are really trying to save the country from ruins, when what they really are doing is trying to gain more power and gain back control of the White House. The republicans does NOTHING for the "average" american, never have and never will! Also, they ran on jobs, jobs, jobs platform in Nov. in order to win back the house and now they won't even say the word jobs. I don't believe they are sincere about jobs, actually hope it doesn't get better over the next 2 years because they know it will weigh heavily on Obama's re-election bid, so predictable!

    June 1, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Monster Zero

    Of course they don't like to hear that Medicare is non-sustainable, it is like your Doctor telling you that you have cancer...the question is does the majority of America think that staying true to course is going to make their cancer better? Paul Ryan's plan is sound, makes economic common sense and will benefit the Nation in the long run, while the Demowits on the other hand continue to misrepresent the issue, dither about and pander for nothing more than voter base...

    June 1, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  7. Ex-Republican

    I knew it would not take long for Americans to see Republicans for what they really are. They can fool some of the people some of the time but not all of us all of the time. November 2012 can't come soon enough.

    June 1, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. MariusGatto

    If 74% of senior citizens oppose RyanCare, how are Republicans going to win elections? The only group they won in 2008 was older whites.

    June 1, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Are these numbers really a surprise? Entitlements do need to be tackled, but, as Rep Ryan found out during his conversation with Clinton recently, the GOP need to let go of their "theology" if they really want the problem solved quickly. The idea that you can continue to cut revenue and programs and expect the debt to disappear is insanity. If the Ryan Plan is starting the conversation, then the GOP and the Democrats are only talking to themselves and NOT to each other. BOTH sides need to give, and the TP people need to realize they won't get anything accomplished if they keep on sticking to this rigid orthodoxy. They are positioning the GOP to get swept out of the House, and they will take down their nominee for the WH with them. Maybe they are willing to be destroyed on principle ( and take the country with them): it will certainly be interesting to watch how they react and who blinks first.

    June 1, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, come now. When is the last time Republicans ever did anything beneficial to anyone but themselves and their lobbyist donors? The GOP spent 8 years borrowing and spending to their hearts content. Now, not only do they want to limit ALL spending, they still want to give the top bracket another tax cut beyond that extended to them in 2010, including the Big Oil and Fortune 500 Corporations. Good job boxing yourselves in on killing Medicare, GOPers. Good luck digging yourselves out of THAT ditch. Looks as if the GOPers only POLITICAL alternative is to make sure they drag ALL of America down with them, no matter who is harmed in the process. Kind of reminds me of the economic collapse in 2007, and the ensuing finger pointing at a President who hadn't yet taken office, but is still been blamed nonetheless. Can't wait for the new GOPer talking points ... you know, those points which are being given to all the GOPers now being *trained* to conduct this summers up and coming Town Hall meetings. You can bet that it'll consist of numerous powerpoints of not touching the folks over 55, even though many millions of them depend on the Medicaid they are receiving - which IS on the cutting block, both Federal and State issued. Unless Eric Cantor can come up with some additional cuts to *pay for it*, rather in the same way he wants to stop federal aid to the tornado victims of Joplin, Missouri unless these funds are also *paid for* up front. (Wonder why Cantor never squawked over the federal aid recently sent to Texas?) Apparently disaster funding, old folks funding, and working class funding is out of the picture. All for the benefit of the extremely wealthy, who in fact, ARE still being catered to.

    June 1, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. Toni

    Another case of Buyer's Regret! Soonoer or later the country will figure out that these Tea Partiers are in the pockets of Big Business, Big Oil, and Big Insrance. They're just oligarchies of the rich!

    June 1, 2011 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Four and The Door

    What percentage of Americans would prefer to have Medicare stay the same but they would have to pay higher taxes? The Democratic Spin Machine has primed Americans by saying that they will only increase taxes on bazillionaires, but evryone knows that feeding an animal like the US Government with those taxes will only make it larger and hungrier for other sources of taxes going forward. The GOP on the other hand feel that there is an appropriate limit to the scope of government and that people can do a better job at spending their money than the politicians can.

    June 1, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. nick

    The republicans don't want goverment health care in any shape or form. The rich can afford high premiums. Their answer is "Don't get sick" or "Stinks to be you"

    June 1, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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