DENVER – With President Obama and Congress preparing for a protracted fight over whether to raise the nation’s record $16.4 trillion debt limit, a new Rasmussen Reports poll suggests that voters have an idea about where lawmakers and the president can find some savings: Their own salaries.
The results appear to provide support for an House Republican proposal to suspend legislators pay until they pass a budget.
By a margin of 81 percent to 12, respondents said that Members of Congress should take a 25 percent pay cut until the federal budget is balanced.
Support for paring back legislators’ $174,000 a year salary was consistent across demographic lines, with roughly the same number of men (81 percent) supporting a pay cut as women (82 percent). Backing for the idea was also similar among blacks (78 percent) and whites (82 percent).
Cutting congress’ pay garnered bipartisan support from respondents, with 87 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of Democrats saying they back smaller paychecks for lawmakers. Support was even higher (83 percent) among those not affiliated with either major political party.
Those polled also backed a 50 percent pay cut for the president until the budget is balanced – but by a smaller 46 to 37 percent margin. Support for cutting the commander-in-chief’s salary was not consistent among all groups of respondents, however.
According to the survey, a majority of Republicans (73 percent) and white respondents (52 percent) support cutting the president’s pay, as do a plurality of men (49 percent), women (44 percent) and those not affiliated with either major political party (48 percent).
A majority of those who identified themselves as Democrats, however, said they did not want to see smaller presidential paychecks by a margin or more than 2 to 1 (56 to 24 percent). Black respondents too opposed cutting the president’s salary by an even wider 4 to 1 margin (61 percent to 15).
The results were similar when voters were asked whether Members of Congress should receive a government pension when they leave office. A majority of those polled, 59 percent, said “no” compared to just 23 percent who said “yes.”
Ending government pensions for retired congressmen was supported by a majority of men (67 percent), women (51 percent), white respondents (62 percent), Republicans (71 percent), and those not affiliated with either major political party (60 percent). A plurality of Democrats (48 percent) also wanted to see an end to the pensions.
Black respondents disagreed, with 42 percent saying congressmen should receive a government pension, compared to 36 percent who said they should not.
The survey results suggest that voters are slightly more charitable when it comes to former presidents than ex-lawmakers when it comes to pensions.
When asked whether the president should receive a $200,000 per year government pension when leaving office, 48 percent of respondents said “no” compared to 40 percent who said “yes.”
A majority of Republicans (73 percent) and white respondents (55 percent) said they wanted to end the generous presidential pension, as did a plurality of men (49 percent), women (46 percent), and those not affiliated with either major political party (48 percent).
Blacks, however, supported the presidential retirement payouts by a huge margin, with 71 percent saying the president should receive a $200,000 per year government pension when he leaves office, compared to just 7 percent who disagreed. Democrats also opposed ending presidential pension payments by a large margin (58 to 27 percent).
The poll surveyed 1,000 likely voters between January 19 and 20, and has a margin of error of + / – 3 percentage points.