Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wall Street Journal Admits Support For Public Option Growing

Yes, that's right.

Citing their own poll, carried out jointly with NBC news, they note that support for a public health insurance plan is up to 48% from 43% during the astroturf attack on town-hall meetings.

I usually don't post a lot of polling data here, but I think this is illustrative. It suggests that conservative opposition to the public option (and health care reform in general) is starting to become counterproductive. While the Journal still claims that Americans are opposed to 'his health-care plan' (meaning President Obama's) 42%-38%, these numbers are far less important than the growing support for the public option.

Naturally, the Republicans don't think so. Per a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY):

Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.), said positive movement in favor of the public option is "meaningless" if Americans remain opposed to the broader legislation.

"They can talk about momentum all they want. The momentum is in the Senate Democratic cloakroom. It's not in Topeka, and it's not in Arcadia, Fla.," Mr. Stewart said, referring to the town Mr. Obama was visiting Tuesday.

While this is the kind of argument that is required from a political operative under the current circumstances, it is simply wrong. The reason for this is simple: 'his health-care plan' does not exist. There is no White House bill for those polled to approve or reject. Thus one must assume that opposition to 'his health-care plan' is really disapproval of the plans in Congress now. The plan receiving the most play in the media is the Senate Finance Committee bill. As quite a few writers have said, this is a bad bill. It falls well short of the 'liberal' goals of health care reform and its sops to conservatives are not sufficient to induce the right to support the very idea of health care reform. So it's only natural this bill would not have a very high approval rate the polls. Indeed, as the growth of support for the public plan shows, it is very likely the lack of a public plan in the Finance Committee bill is the reason for significant portion of public opposition to it.

Growing support for the public option means growing support for real health care reform of the kind not provided in the Finance Committee bill as currently written. Plenty of polls, from a plethora of sources, have shown strong support for robust health care reform. Those who do want robust reform will naturally be skeptical of too much moderation in the pursuit of virtue.

The Republican establishment has shot their wad on health care and they know it. While they have successfully created a climate of fear and uncertainty, which is something they do very well, this time it is not going to work to their benefit. It worked in 2004 because it was possible to portray President Bush as a folksy, comforting figure and as a tough guy who would protect the nation. Thus, despite his myriad flaws and incompetencies, they were able to offer fear in one hand and comfort in the other. The problem now is that the Republicans have no leaders to make Americans feel safe about the economy or health care. They can scare Americans about President Obama's reform efforts, but they have nothing to offer to comfort and reassure American voters in its place.

The fact is that, regardless of how the right attempts to portray polling data, Americans want to see the mess the health care industry has become cleaned up. They want to know they can see a doctor if they are hurt or fall ill, they want to know they can do it without going bankrupt, and the current situation is that they do not know either of those things. Republicans can talk about how great American health care is all they want. People who are being sued by their hospital know the real situation.

People do not think they understand HR 3200 or the Finance Committee bill and so they have a hard time supporting them. They understand, or think they understand, the public option and so they can get behind it. As support for the public option grows, it won't matter what Americans think of 'his health-care plan.' Support for the public option means support for robust health care reform and that means the Republicans have lost. Filibusters and bravado may stop legislation, but they won't help the Republican Party. As time goes on and the support for a public option continues to rise, even those who intend to vote against the bill will not want to be seen blocking it from reaching the floor.


TRUTH 101 said...

I'm all for the public option as a step towards a single payer system.

A political problem I see is that the people in Congress, Pelosi, Reid and a few others, don't seem to have the ability to sell this to enogh legislators to get it through. President Obama has to spend an incredible amount of time selling this to the American People. This shows the weaknes of the Democratic Party as a whole when we only have one person able to convince the masses of an agenda that benefits all of us.

Sheria said...

I like your analysis; here's hoping that the support for a public option continues to grow. The only thing that really speaks to elected officials is the possibility of losing votes in the next election. Public support for a public option will go a long ways towards making the Repulicans and the blue dog Democrats rethinking their votes.

Chris Richards said...

Truth 101:

My ideal health care reform is a national health care system modeled on some of the better combined hospital/PPO business-plans. Single-payer is a good second choice if that is not feasible anytime in the near future.

I see the current health reform proposals on the table as 'taking what we can get, but better than nothing.' I have some real problems with the Finance Committee bill that I hope are addressed, but on the plus side I don't see how it can pass the House unless they are addressed.

The Democratic Party has not shaken off its Clinton Era transformation into a pro-choice, pro-gay rights conservative party. Until it does, we're going to continue to be disappointed in it. Things have improved somewhat and I hope they improve more over the next seven or so years, but it may take some time after that for things to really get back on track.


Well, while it can be very hard to guarantee whose position will manage to carry them through the next election, I think it's safe to make one small assumption: I am thinking the words 'Ned Lamont' are lot more attractive to citizens of Connecticut than they were a few years back.