AARP Eye Center
President Barack Obama came out of the fiscal cliff battles with the public relations victory, but it's a bit like winning the blue ribbon at the county fair with a pig so stinky no one even wants to look at it.
The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 3-6 among 1,003 adults, finds that 48 percent approve of Obama's handling of the year-end negotiations, while only 19 percent approve of how Republican leaders handled the talks.
But that doesn't mean people actually like the fiscal cliff legislation, which extends some Bush-era tax cuts, puts off automatic spending cuts and staves off cuts in Medicare payments to doctors.
Especially not older Americans. Only 35 percent approve of the new tax legislation, compared with 38 percent of all those surveyed.
"They're terribly concerned the debt level and spending level are unsustainable," says Susan MacManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida who studies older Americans and how they vote.
People 65 and older were much more likely to say that the legislation will hurt the national economy, hurt "people like you" and harm the federal budget deficit than those in other age groups (56 percent of people 65 and older said the legislation will hurt people like themselves, for example, compared with only 42 percent of 18- to-29 year-olds).
People 50 to 64, on the other hand, were less disapproving of the legislation than any other age group.
MacManus says because they are worried about Social Security and Medicare and want legislation that will protect those programs - and the benefits they are in line to receive. As MacManus puts it, "I hear, "maybe it isn't perfect, but I'd rather have something there.' "