The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


You don't miss your water till the well runs dry


Signs are seen on a barricade outside a community college theater before a town hall meeting with Congressman Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) in Branchburg, N.J., on Feb. 22. (Dominick Reuter/Reuters)

[UPDATE 2/28/17: At the meeting of state governors the other day, Pres. Trump said:

We're going to repeal and replace Obamacare, and get states the flexibility that they need to make the end result really, really good for them. A very complicated issue. … Now, I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated.

Really! Who knew! So complicated!

Mr. President, with respect, I'll tell you who knew—anyone who thought about the problem for 5 minutes.]

I don't know whether the angry demonstrators at various Republican "town hall" meetings recently are paid left-wing provocateurs—though I seriously doubt that they are—but there does seem to be growing dissatisfaction with the efforts to ditch Obamacare. A number of recent polls (analyzed here at show that the Obama health-care program is more popular now than it has ever been. The Kaiser Health Tracking Poll, for instance, which has been tracking attitudes toward Obamacare since 2010, reports that the proportion of respondents reporting a favorable opinion of the law (48 percent) is the highest it has ever recorded; similar findings come from polls by the Pew Research Center and Fox News. The increase is driven largely by a change in the views of independents, among whom 50 percent now view the law favorably.

President Trump and the Republicans have dug themselves a little hole on this one. It's pretty clear that Trump had not thought through either the nature of the replacement he had in mind for the health-care law, nor any picture of how the transition from here to there would be managed. We'll see if he, and they, can dig themselves out; Trump has promised a concrete proposal by the end of March.