One Bad Legislative Apple Won't Spoil the Whole Bunch, But a Whole Bag of Legislative Bad Apples Might


This year's legislative agenda?

Part of the reason health care reform has suffered at the polls has been the news context in which the public viewed it: It wasn't President Obama's one complex, compromised, expensive initiative; it was one in an ongoing series of complex, compromised, expensive initiatives:

Prior to the health care debate, the Washington stories that Americans heard most clearly were about massive new government spending on a bank bailout abused by Wall Street; a near-trillion-dollar economic stimulus plan; a budget that included tax increases; and (to a lesser extent) a multibillion-dollar auto industry bailout (33 percent closely following in February; 40 percent in December 2008).

Seen in this light, I think it's not crazy to suggest that some of the public opposition to health care reform was because it was seen as being part of an agenda of big-ticket special interest handouts. When folks in Washington talk about "political capital," this is what they're referring to: Legislators can only pile on so much before the public gets wary. Regardless of its merits (or lack thereof), legislation isn't considered in a vacuum. 

Previously, I looked at what public polling tells us about health care reform here