The new bill passed by the House that would sharply increase Social Security taxes over the next 10 years divides the American people down the middle, with 43 per cent favoring the measure and 43 per cent opposed to it.

The overriding reason for public support for the Social Security bill is not hard to find: By 89 to 7 per cent, the vast majority of Americans firmly believe that "Social Security provides minimum basic security for older people and it cannot be allowed to go broke." The House bill would raise the Social Security tax on an equal basis among employees and employers. The maximum possible tax would rise from $965 on $16,500 earnings now to $2,025. on $42,600 earnings in 1987. The Senate has a bill that would put a heavier tax burden on employers than employees.

In a survey of 1,495 adults nationwide from Nov. 7 to 14, Americans show a deep commitment to the Social Security system and an aversion to making a radical change in it. By 49 to 28 per cent, they reject the argument the since most people need more money in retirement that Social Security provides it would be better to go over to a totally private system of pensions and abolish Social Security, since it has not been on a sound basis."

Moreover, Americans are willing to pay more to keep the system intact. Indeed, a 55-31 per cent majority feels that "Congress is showing real courage in asking that taxes for Social Security be raised sharply to save the system."

But there is also a deep strain of bitterness about the way Social Security has developed. Most peopel expected that there would be no problems in finding the money to pay people their Social Security when they reached eligibility age. Now, by 75 to 14 per cent, a majority feels that "it is a prime example of irresponsibility by the federal government that Social Security was not funded properly in the first place."