You can tell the ObamaCare rollout is going miserably when the best news for Democrats is that their major reform law is not dropping even lower in the polls. Yet. That’s the takeaway from the latest Gallup polling, as the Washington Post points out. That “yet” is key, though. As Sean Sullivan notes:
Overall, Americans remain more likely to say the law will make things worse, not better. A new Gallup poll shows Americans’ views of how the law effects [sic] both them and the country more broadly have barely budged since the summer. In August, nearly a quarter of Americans (24 percent) said they think the law will make things better for their family, while 38 percent said they believe it will make things worse. The better/worse split is now 25/34 percent.
On the question of how the law will affect the heath-care situation across the country, the numbers are also nearly identical to where they were in August.
Democrats should not be too encouraged by the stagnant poll numbers for three reasons. First, the numbers remain terrible. Democrats need those numbers to go in the other direction, not tread water. Second, as Sullivan notes, the government shutdown served as something of a distraction from everything else, including the initial launch of the ObamaCare Web portal, since the two overlapped. Thus polls might not yet be registering the full reaction to the website debacle.
And third, and most important, the website “glitches” were far from the only–or the worst–aspects of the rollout that could anger the public. In the last twenty-four hours the debate over ObamaCare has shifted to the fact that the public is aware that the central promise of ObamaCare–if you like your plan, you can keep your plan–is not true; Obama knew it wasn’t true; and the administration rewrote the law’s regulations after the bill passed to maximize the number of people who would be kicked off their insurance policies.
When that information settles in, it’s certainly possible that the polling numbers not only on ObamaCare but on the Democrats in Congress could drop. And they seem to understand this. As Politico reported this afternoon:
Sen. Mary Landrieu said Wednesday she would propose legislation to ensure all Americans could keep their existing insurance coverage under Obamacare, a fresh sign of the political problems the law’s rollout has created for congressional Democrats.
Landrieu, a Democrat who faces a tough reelection in Louisiana in 2014, said she would either offer her own bill or formally sign onto another measure that would ensure that the law would not force anyone off of their existing health policies.
“The promise was made, and it should be kept,” Landrieu said in the Capitol Wednesday. “And it was our understanding when we voted for that bill that people when they have insurance could keep with what they had. So I’m going to be working on that fix.”
Those three paragraphs sum up the bind congressional Democrats are in at the moment. They expect voters will punish them for dishonestly shoving this law through Congress, and they seem to agree the voters have a case. After all, Landrieu’s bill would be unnecessary if the insured could keep their plans. They can’t, because ObamaCare is designed to prevent that. If millions more are to be protected from getting kicked off their plans, the government–which is the entity causing them to be kicked off their plans–will have to intervene.
That is an unfortunate but common pattern by now: government is expanded through well-meaning but preposterously ill-informed regulation, and the liberals responsible for it–Landrieu cast a significant vote for ObamaCare after receiving the “Louisiana Purchase” for her trouble–propose new regulations intended to fix what the old regulations broke.
Yet Landrieu likely faces an uphill battle precisely because she cast such a high-profile vote to pass ObamaCare. She has a credibility issue: why should voters trust her to save their insurance plans when she played such an important role in making sure they could not keep their insurance in the first place? A fundamental premise of ObamaCare’s sales pitch was a lie. Landrieu’s response seems to be the same excuse the president keeps employing: she had no idea; she learned about this from the media; and nobody’s more upset about it than she is.
But that brings us back to the credibility issue. Democrats knew the promise at the heart of ObamaCare was false, as Steny Hoyer admitted yesterday. And Landrieu’s bill amounts to simply a repeat of that promise. This time she means it, she’ll tell the voters. It’s not a great sales pitch, but at this point it’s all many Democrats have.