Skip Navigation

Close and don't show again.

Your browser is out of date.

You may not get the full experience here on National Journal.

Please upgrade your browser to any of the following supported browsers:

Congressional Insiders Poll Congressional Insiders Poll

This ad will end in seconds
Close X

Want access to this content? Learn More »

Forget Your Password?

Don't have an account? Register »

Reveal Navigation


Congressional Insiders Poll

Congressional Insiders Poll

What do you think the prospects are for significant entitlement reform in this Congress?

Democrats (30 votes)

Good: 3%
Fair: 10%
Poor: 70%
No chance: 13%
Improving (volunteered): 3%



“Good prospects, but not necessarily good reforms.”



“There is a reason they are known as the third rail of politics.”

“Republicans can only cut a deal with Obama on their terms, and Obama can’t agree to anything close to that.”

“It takes a bipartisan effort to reform, and right-wingers want repeal instead.”

“Even the tea party likes entitlements.”


“The GOP is locked into the no-tax pledge: 86 of 87 freshmen swallowed the Kool-Aid.”

“Some changes are possible, but I doubt compromise can be found on ‘significant’ change. At the very least, I hope Obama decides any such changes would be the appropriate place to finally make his stand. By the way, I object to the use of the word ‘reform’ in this question—not all changes can be defined as ‘reform.’ ”

“Entitlement reform makes Egypt look like an easy political fix.”

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories
Sign up form for the newsletter

“The mean spirit steps on rational compromise.”

No chance

“Given how much Republicans are concentrating on jobs right now, there is little room to focus on other major issues … oh, wait.”


“The prospects for entitlement reform in the 112th Congress are more positive than one may have sensed several months ago. A more civil and collegial spirit is emerging in the Senate this year than I’ve seen in recent years. The president is moving to the center and learning to triangulate, much like former President Clinton did in his final six years as president. The addition of people like Bill Daley, Jack Lew, Gene Sperling, and Bruce Reed to senior posts in the administration, coupled with the president’s receptiveness to the work of the Budget Deficit Commission, are all cause for hope that a broad budget agreement that includes domestic and defense discretionary spending, entitlement programs, and revenue could move forward this year or next.”


What do you think the prospects are for significant entitlement reform in this Congress

Republicans (35 votes)

Good: 11%
Fair: 40%
Poor: 40%
No chance: 6%
50-50 (volunteered): 3%


“I think Obama sees this as his defining issue: If he gets any kind of entitlement reform agreement, he will be reelected, and how can Republicans deny him if reform is on the table?”

“We have no other choice but to bring down the costs.”


“If there is any chance for reform, we must work together like Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill did when they reformed Social Security.”

“It all depends on if the White House is willing to tackle entitlements. What the GOP learned last time with Social Security is that one party can’t do it alone.”

“We’re going to do all we can to squeeze $100 billion out of discretionary spending.”

“But probably not enough.”


“Harry Reid says there is no problem, so it’s pretty hard to have an adult conversation about saving these programs for future generations.”

“It will be interesting to see if the administration is more sensitive to protesters in Egypt than in America—health care.”

“It’s a presidential election [cycle], the Senate is in balance; unfortunately, the government tends to just do two things well—nothing or overreact.”

“It will be hard to do but worth the effort.”

“Unfortunately, only a small handful of members (mostly conservative) are really serious about tackling entitlement reform.”

No chance

“When we start passing suspensions, then maybe we can start thinking about entitlement reform.”

“No chance for significant entitlement reform.”



On balance, do you think U.S. interests in the Middle East will be helped or hurt by democracy spreading in the region?

Democrats (30 votes)

Helped: 83%
Depends, mixed (volunteered):


“How can the lessening of repressive, undemocratic regimes be regarded as anything but good for the country of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams?”

“Transparency gets results!”

“For too long, the U.S. has propped up autocracies at the expense of democracy. For our ‘freedom and democracy’ agenda to be taken seriously, some consistency in both word and deed is in order.”

“If it’s handled skillfully.”

“The big question is whether true democracies will emerge. Populist uprisings do not necessarily end in democracies.”

“But it might take years, decades even, to see.”

“A chosen government will be a more reliable ally.”

“Helped in the long term, with anxious times in the transition.”

“In the near term, the spread of democracy in the Middle East may have an uneven effect on U.S. interests in that region. In the long term, the effect will likely be more positive as nations move through the growing pains of becoming new democracies, particularly if the Israelis act decisively in agreeing to a land-for-peace and security deal with the Palestinians sooner rather than later.”

“Assuming by ‘democracy’ we do not mean merely holding elections, but developing responsive, effective institutions of governance.” 


“Democracy is always a good thing, but the Middle East is a difficult region. ‘Democracy’ with anti-American behavior could be a problem.”

“No-win situation: Never looks good when you throw a friend under the bus, even when he deserves it.” 

Depends, mixed

“It depends on what democracy looks like and to whom these nations turn for leadership.”

“Mixed: It isn’t a simple issue.”


On balance, do you think U.S. interests in the Middle East will be helped or hurt by democracy spreading in the region?

Republicans (34 votes)

Helped: 79%
Too soon to tell, no evidence (volunteered)
: 6% 


“Hopefully, but very unclear at this time; not sure how it will unfold or who will assume power and what their posture toward Israel will be.”

“However, it will make the job more difficult: Democracy is much harder work than autocracy. These are complicated situations which require the attention of the administration, Congress, and the American people.”

“Hopefully, but very unclear at this time; not sure how it will

“By true democracy, including minority rights.”

“But only with strong U.S. diplomacy accompanying the transitions.”

“Developing democracies in the Middle East would help U.S. interests only if those democracies ensure personal freedoms and liberties.” 


“As long as we define ‘democracy’ as simply holding elections: Too often, elections are held in societies without a robust or viable political process that simply allows militant groups to seize control due to a vacuum in stability.”

“In the short run, hurt. In the long term, depends on the new regime and how America handles this transition.” 

Too soon to tell, no evidence

“It’s too early to know. While spreading democracy is a noble goal, we don’t yet know what kind of partner it will yield as far as peace and stability are concerned.”

“No evidence that democracy is spreading.”


Democratic Congressional Insiders Sens. Sherrod Brown, Ben Cardin, Thomas Carper, Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Mikulski, Mark Pryor, Jon Tester, Tom Udall, Mark Warner; Reps. Jason Altmire, Robert Andrews, Tammy Baldwin, Xavier Becerra, Howard Berman, Lois Capps, Michael Capuano, Dennis Cardoza, James Clyburn, Gerry Connolly , Jim Cooper, Joseph Crowley, Elijah Cummings, Diana DeGette, Rosa DeLauro, Eliot Engel, Anna Eshoo, Sam Farr, Chaka Fattah, Bob Filner, Alcee Hastings, Rush Holt, Mike Honda, Steve Israel, Jim Langevin, John Lewis, Zoe Lofgren, Nita Lowey, Carolyn Maloney, Ed Markey, Jim McDermott, Jim McGovern, Jim Moran, Gary Peters, Collin Peterson, David Price, Silvestre Reyes, Linda Sanchez, Jan Schakowsky, Allyson Schwartz, Jose Serrano, Adam Smith, Pete Stark, Bennie Thompson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Henry Waxman, Peter Welch, and Frederica Wilson. 

GOP Congressional Insiders Sens. Lamar Alexander, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, John Ensign, Lindsey Graham, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Richard Lugar, Jeff Sessions, Olympia Snowe, John Thune, David Vitter; Reps. Michele Bachmann, Brian Bilbray, Marsha Blackburn, John Boehner, Charles Boustany, Kevin Brady, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, John Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, Jeff Denham, Charlie Dent, David Dreier, Sean Duffy, Jo Ann Emerson, Jeff Flake, Scott Garrett, Bob Goodlatte, Trey Gowdy, Kay Granger, Doc Hastings, Nan Hayworth, Darrell Issa, Mike Kelly, Peter King, Jack Kingston, Adam Kinzinger, John Kline, Dan Lungren, Kenny Marchant, Kevin McCarthy, Patrick McHenry, John Mica, Candice Miller, Sue Myrick, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Tom Price, Dave Reichert, Mike Rogers of Michigan, Phil Roe, Paul Ryan, Aaron Schock, Pete Sessions, Adrian Smith, Steve Stivers, Lee Terry, Pat Tiberi, Fred Upton, Daniel Webster, and Joe Wilson.

This article appears in the February 12, 2011 edition of National Journal Magazine.

Don't Miss Today's Top Stories

Sign up form for the newsletter
comments powered by Disqus