Social Security – often called the most successful government program ever devised – is used by a substantial portion of U.S. citizens.

A recent story the Washington Post noted: “About 65 million retired and disabled workers, spouses and children collect Social Security benefits every month, the equivalent of about 1 in 4 households.”

Something however, must be done to address a looming funding shortfall. If no changes are made, the Social Security Trust Fund will be exhausted in 2033 and after that, it will only be able to deliver benefits based on current receipts – resulting in a 23 percent cut to retirees.

Congress has failed to address this looming crisis for years, in part, because of a widespread perception that the American public is not willing to face the issue, but is that really the case?

Our Citizen Cabinet survey earlier this year tells a different story.

A representative panel of registered voters nationally, as well as statewide in Oklahoma, Maryland and Virginia, were asked to go through a policymaking simulation that provided them a background briefing, presented arguments for and against various policy options being considered by Congress and finally asked to choose which options they would recommend to cover the shortfall.

The entire simulation was vetted in advance with top Republican and Democratic Congressional committee staffers as well as outside experts, to make sure the best arguments were made and the issue was presented fairly.

The findings were both enlightening and highly relevant to today’s debate. Nationally and in all three states, large majorities of both Republicans and Democrats agreed on steps that would cover at least two-thirds of the Social Security shortfall. More modest majorities made recommendations that would completely eliminate the shortfall, primarily by eliminating the cap on income subject to the payroll tax. You can find all of the survey’s results here. And try the simulation for yourself here.

While Congress continues delay key reforms in the latest go-around on the budget, the American people have shown they are ready to make the hard choices their representatives in Washington continue to avoid.

The people, it seems, are two steps ahead and ready to make a deal.