Commentary Magazine


It’s Not Just an Insurance Company Plot

The Obama administration would have us believe that the outcry from voters at health-care town halls is a concoction of the insurance industry. Well, those insurance execs must be awfully sneaky — they seem to have infiltrated the polls as well. The Wall Street Journal reports on the Democrats’ woes:

A new Quinnipiac University poll out this morning underscores the challenge facing them as they and their Republican (and some conservative Democratic) critics spend the month pressing their respective cases.

For instance, the Quinnipiac national poll -– with an unusually large sample of more than 2,000 interviews –- found that almost three in four Americans don’t believe Mr. Obama’s promise that any health reform that he signs will not add to the federal deficit.

[. . .]

In the Quinnipiac survey, 55% (including 54% of the key independent voter bloc) said they were more concerned that the overhaul would increase the deficit than that Congress would not pass some kind of overhaul. That same 57% (and 59% of independents) disagreed with the following statement: “Overhauling the nation’s health care system is so important that it should be enacted even if it means substantially increasing the federal budget deficit.”

The poll also contains another piece of the public opinion puzzle that Mr. Obama and the Democratic congressional leadership may find problematic: Voters by a large margin don’t want a health care overhaul if it can only garner Democratic votes. In other words, even though Democrats control both houses of Congress, voters are suspicious of a bill that only has Democratic support.

The poll found 59% of the public disagreed (and only 36% agreed) with the following statement: “Congress should approve a health care overhaul even if only Democrats support it.”

A CNN poll has somewhat better news for Obama – respondents support “Obama’s plan” (which is what, exactly?) by a 50-45 percent margin. But the good news ends there:

The results indicate a generational divide.

“Obama’s plan is most popular among younger Americans and least popular among senior citizens,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “A majority of Americans over the age of 50 oppose Obama’s plan; a majority of those under 50 support it.”

[. . .]

The poll indicates that only three in 10 of all Americans think the president’s health care proposals will help their families. Another 44 percent feel they won’t benefit but that other families will be helped by the president’s plans, and one in five say no one will be helped.

“Less than a quarter of Americans with private health insurance think that Obama’s proposals would help them personally. Most people on Medicare and Medicaid also don’t think that the Obama plan will help them,” says Holland.

Moreover, the intensity is clearly with the critics. A third of the respondents very strongly oppose ObamaCare, while 23 percent strongly favor it. Half of those who oppose ObamaCare say they plan on going to a town hall, while only 37 percent of supporters of ObamaCare plan on going.

The poll numbers are borne out by what we have already seen at the town halls. There are lots of skeptical people, and those who care enough to turn out at town halls are especially skeptical and hostile toward a government takeover of their health care. Rather than insulting the voters or spying on them, maybe the White House should try responding to their concerns.