There are many questions about the short- and long-term health of the Social Security program. The program is underfunded, which has led to long wait times for many Social Security services, and a report last year stated that the Social Security trust fund will lose the ability to pay out full benefits in 2034.
But despite all that, Social Security remains very popular. In fact, it’s one of the most popular government agencies. According to a recent report by the Partnership For Public Service, 69 percent of those surveyed answered that they view Social Security either “very” or “somewhat” favorably, while only 23 percent viewed the program as “very” or “somewhat” unfavorably.
That makes Social Security the second most-favored government agency, behind only the National Park Service, which was viewed favorably by 84 percent of Americans. In third place was the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is viewed favorably by 65 percent of Americans and likely took a hit following the pandemic.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the least popular agency listed was the Internal Revenue Service, with 42 percent approval. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of State were both found to have 46 percent approval.
However, with only 45 percent approval, the federal government itself was rated lower than every agency. “America is experiencing a lack of trust in major institutions—particularly the federal government. Only 4 in 10 Americans say they trust the federal government to do what is right at least some of the time,” the report said. “This lack of trust has serious implications for how the public interacts with our government and how well federal agencies can respond to the major challenges facing the country. Today, the nation is experiencing serious repercussions because of this trust deficit.”
In his budget request for the next fiscal year, President Biden called for $14.8 billion for the Social Security Administration, which represents a 14 percent increase from 2021. That is, however, the White House’s ask, and it remains subject to approval by Congress.
“The budget does not go far enough toward putting the nation’s fiscal house back in order, nor does it tackle the tougher trade offs necessary to responsibly prevent Social Security, Medicare, and Highway Trust Fund insolvency,” Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, told CNBC of the White House’s proposal.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.