Wonkbook: 84 percent oppose Ryanâs Medicare plan You know whatâs not popular? Reforming Medicare such that beneficiaries âreceive a check or voucher from the government each year for a fixed amount they can use to shop for their own private health insurance policy.â According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll, 65 percent of Americans oppose the idea -- about the same number who dismissed it in 1995. And if theyâre told that the cost of private insurance for seniors is projected to outpace the cost of Medicare insurance for seniors -- which is exactly what CBO projects -- more than 80 percent of Americans oppose the plan. But itâs not just sweepingly ideological reforms that are unpopular. Cutting Medicare polls poorly even if you leave out the details. Almost 80 percent of Americans oppose Medicare cuts in the abstract, while 70 percent oppose Medicaid cuts. Slightly over half of the country wants the Defense Department left alone. The only deficit-reduction option that is popular? Raising taxes on the rich. That gets the go-ahead from 72 percent of us -- though, as any budget wonk will tell you, it canât solve anything beyond a small fraction of our fiscal problem. --------------- Many americans don't understand the problem: Medicare Tax: What You Pay For Medicare Won't Cover Your Costs You paid your Medicare taxes all those years and want your money's worth: full benefits after you retire. Nearly three out of five people say in a recent Associated Press-GfK poll that they paid into the system so they deserve their full benefits â no cuts. But a newly updated financial analysis shows that what people paid into the system doesn't come close to covering the full value of the medical care they can expect to receive as retirees. Consider an average-wage, two-earner couple together earning $89,000 a year. Upon retiring in 2011, they would have paid $114,000 in Medicare payroll taxes during their careers. But they can expect to receive medical services â from prescriptions to hospital care â worth $355,000, or about three times what they put in. The estimates by economists Eugene Steuerle and Stephanie Rennane of the Urban Institute think tank illustrate the huge disconnect between widely-held perceptions and the numbers behind Medicare's shaky financing. Although Americans are worried about Medicare's long-term solvency, few realize the size of the gap. ---------- Never head of the Urban Institute think tank, but as long as it's not the Heritage Foundation, we can assume the numbers are about right. O yeah, unless Grandma Squidbilly enters the 2012 race, Obama will run on "Republicans want to cut Medicare/SS" to win it easy.