Politics

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

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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