"Impressive" Support For Health Care Reform Not Really All That Impressive


Over at The Daily Beast, Eric Alterman cites what he calls an "impressive" statistic about health care reform: 

One impressive statistic is that despite the complexity of the issue, the considerable impact it is likely to have on individual lives, and the media fascination with the scare tactics of "the Commie/Nazis are coming" right-wing, a solid majority of Americans wants Congress to pass a health-care reform bill, preferably with a public option.

The statistic, however, is less impressive when you do the difficult work of actually looking at the polls. The link Alterman provides simply doesn't show that "a solid majority of Americans" want Congress to pass a reform bill. Instead, it says that 1) one poll shows public support for the idea of allowing those younger than 55 to buy into Medicare and 2) the public option polls better when questioners compare it to Medicare. This isn't all that surprising; Medicare is, not surprisingly, a popular program. But it doesn't come close to telling us that most Americans want Congress to pass health care reform.

Indeed, numerous polls that attempt to gauge public support for the actual bill show just the opposite. According to Pollster.com, opposition to health care reform has climbed pretty steadily since mid September, and recently it's taken off. Currently, the site, which aggregates public opinion results from a variety of major polling organizations, puts opposition to the bill at 53.5 percent. Support, on the other hand, has declined to 38.4 percent. Nor are those numbers all coming from organizations like Fox and Rasmussen that liberals accuse of being biased toward the right: CNN's most recent poll puts opposition at 61 percent; Quinnipac puts it at 52 percent. And even those polls that show less than 50 percent in opposition still show significantly greater opposition than support.

Granted, there's been some quibbling recently about whether all of the opposition is actually coming from the right, and what that might mean for reform. But while interesting, I'm not sure how useful the distribution of opposition is to reform supporters. No matter where the opposition is coming from, the fact remains, a substantial number — probably a majority — of Americans oppose the reform legislation. 

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  1. Eric Alterman: What will happen to Ezra Klein after everyone is through passing him around.

  2. Granted, there's been some quibbling recently about whether all of the opposition is actually coming from the right, and what that might mean for reform.

    That assumes that if 'reform' moves left, it will pick up liberal supporters WITHOUT losing any current support. That is not at all a given.

  3. reform

    1 a : to put or change into an improved form or condition b : to amend or improve by change of form or removal of faults or abuses

    Peter, I am new to commenting at Reason, so I apologize if I offend. I understand Democrats calling whatever they pass "reform." It has a nice "the-american-people-are-idiots" implicative ring to it. But considering you guys have written extensively about the "complicated" subject, why in the hell are you referring to it as "reform?" I am new, but I haven't seen anything posted by any contributers that remotely resembles any advocacy (besides Matt's auspicious personal experience in France via his French bride) for the pile of crap coming out of Congress. According to Merriam Webster's definition of "reform," health care policy and health care will only worsen. Anti-reform perhaps? To be fair to Matt, he was advocating a few aspects of the French system, albeit exclusive to his own experiences.

    I'm just saying it doesn't deserve to be called reform. I guess I must be a health care reform denier.

    1. It's an idiom that keeps everyone on the same page. Constantly referring to what everyone else calls 'reform' as 'deform' would only be confusing and to be honest, obnoxious. While we all agree that this 'reform' is not going to bring any improvements, it's become the common terminology. Maybe they could call it 'reform' with scare quotes.

      1. Unfortunately it also means that if we are opposed to the socialists idea of "reform", according to them we are opposed to all reform and prefer the status quo. Why do we (and even republicans) give democrats a monopoly on "reform"?

      2. How about "medical care legislation" or "health insurance legislation?" Scare quotes, huh. It's idiotic liberals that accuse people of being against "health care reform" if you think the legislation is preposterous and/or hazardous. If you polled the population and simpy asked, "would you like some improvements in medical/health care/insurance (in whatever form - costs, delivery, outcomes), i.e. 'reform,' it's highly unlikely there would be a single nay.

        Or, another favorite of you libs is the global warming "denier" assertion. As I have observed from your idiotic comments (offense intended) and others' reasonable comments, no one denies "climate change" or the warming trend and commenters have tried to explain to you, and the other "free thinkers" moonlighting on here from the HuffPo and Democratic Underground, that the real issue is the legislation being put forth in the name of "fixing" the perceived impending "catastrophe." Everything is a fucking crisis. Liberals are the crisis.

        The Dems constantly say that all this is about is the Republicans handing Obama a defeat. There's probably some truth to Republicans not wanting Obama signing a bill for political reasons, but THE FUCKING DEMS HAVE A MAJORITY IN BOTH HOUSES AND OCCUPY THE WHITE HOUSE. Scary caps. You know, the same way Bush was already leaving office. Same idiotic logic. In reality, the idiotic Dems in Washington are trying to pass "ANYTHING" as fast as possible for a victory. That's it. Just gotta get 60 votes - that's the ultimate goal.

        Let me respond for you: "I hate Bush" or "but the Republicans blah, blah, blah."

        1. The Chad is not the same person as Chad, a.k.a. Choad.

    2. (besides Matt's auspicious personal experience in France via his French bride)

      Reform I could get behind: A congressional mandate providing a French bride for every American. And we can all go to France for our healthcare! Sure, the startup costs are a bitch, but imagine how much money we'd save if the French were paying for every American's treatments.

  4. The correct word is deform. I have spoken.

    1. btw, no offense on the 'obnoxious' line above. I was speaking proverbially. The request for a different term was the obnoxious part.

      1. Just call it what it is. How about just calling the collection of Democratic bills "The Redistribution of Wealth and Continue to Fuck Up The Economy Acts of 2009."

        1. Just in case you didn't see this above, The Chad is not Choad Chad of "Chad and Tony sittin' in a tree" fame. Also, The Chad is probably a real person.

          1. To avoid confusion, I recommend that The Chad rename himself to be Thechad. Maybe with an accent or umlaut.

            1. Let's see if I can get my suggestion through the spam filter.

              1. Yes! In your stupid faggot face, spam filter!

                1. So Chad, a.k.a. Choad, is the spam filter?

                  1. Nevertheless....... RE-from nightmare. Pappy O'Daniel 2012.

                    I quess I had a knee jerk reaction when I saw "Chad," kind of like my impulse to vomit when I see Krugman on tv. Call me a stupidity alarmist, along with being a re-form denier.

      2. By the way, thanks for fucking clearing that up for me, The Chad. I had no idea that that sack of dung legislation, in all of its sundry forms, was commonly referred to as "health care reform." You were just speaking proverbially, of course!? - a twenty something philosophy major / intellectual giant no doubt. And I made no such 'request.' 'Deform' was your word. I was somewhat grateful when Obama in his 567th? speech switched over to "health 'insurance' reform" and knocked down the uninsured number to 30M in his address to Congress.

        Hell, I really just hate the semantic disconnect propagated by pols and media. They should call "government spending" "your tax dollar spending" or "stimulus spending" "reallocation of your future higher taxes."

        I do apologize for confusing you with Choade. Surely Choade is Tony is MNG.

  5. I suspect that all the "healthcare is broken" blather so ubiquitous a few years ago was based on what we were hearing, not on what we were experiencing. Now that we're stopping to think about how universal healthcare will impact us personally we're seeing that things aren't nearly as bad as the hype, and that things could be a whole lot worse. IOW, we're realizing that if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

  6. The link to the pollster.com poll doesn't work. Try this:


  7. "the Commie/Nazis are coming"

    They won't stop me from delivering these UNICEF pennies!

  8. Why the fuck would anyone want to expand medicare?

  9. Votes.

  10. I mean, why would voters want to expand medicare?

    1. There was a group of a dozen or so people in Grand Central Terminal today waving signs and chanting that Medicare should be expanded to all. Presumably they think health care for every person in the US can be financed by seizing the assets of productive people.

    2. Because it gives health care to old people.

      That's as far as the average citizen gets in their analysis of whether or not a program is worthy of support. It just happens by magic.

  11. Offering a huge voting block free healthcare is a political win for the Democrats. How they get the CBO to score it as deficit neutral is something different

  12. In a recent poll, 70% were in favor of free rainbow-flavored puppies for the children, as opposed to only 17% opposed and 13% unsure.

    To be sure, different phrasings of the question produced different results, but the consensus is clear: Pass the Rainbows and Puppies for the Children Act, including Section 3A concerning preventive detention.

  13. In a recent poll it was discovered that eight out of ten people have never been surveyed.

    1. It has also been determined that half of the people polled were of below average intelligence.

  14. I'm neither a Dumbokrat nor a Retardican, but I still think overspending is stupid, healthcare "reform" (scary quotes intended), is even worse when congress has the attitude that they know better than their bosses (US!) Jeez and you do know that 8 out of 5 people have trouble with fractions...

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