Poll Dancing on Obamacare

marshabI get it: they really hate Obamacare. It’s worse than Stalinism and kidney stones combined. But how do they look themselves in the mirror after spinning such bullshit in print — nonsense that is so readily checked and so easily debunked? That’s what I wondered when I saw Marsha Blackburn’s op-ed in The Tennessean yesterday. In Marshaworld, one look at the polls and it’s clear the thing won’t work and everyone knows it:

It has become very clear that this law is unworkable. A recent CNN poll shows support for the president’s health care law waning, with only 39 percent of Americans now in favor of it, down from 51 percent in January. With the Obama administration’s decisions to delay several parts of the health care law, including the employer mandate, it is clear that even the White House now recognizes what the rest of America already knows: “Obamacare” is a train wreck.

The problem with Blackburn’s position is that while poll results may find that Americans are skeptical about on the Affordable Care Act, the polls also show that Americans want Congress to make it work, not kill it. Yes, the CNN poll she mentions does find only 39 percent of respondents favoring most or all of Obamacare, and a Pew poll completed around the same time (early September) locates approval at just 42 percent, with 53 percent expressing disapproval.

But the Pew poll goes on to ask a crucial question: What should elected officials who oppose the law (that’s you, Marsha) do now? Among the 53 percent in the poll who disapprove of Obamacare, 27 percent say lawmakers should “do what they can to make the law work as well as possible,” while just 23 percent say “do what they can to make the law fail.”

In other words, more than two-thirds of Americans (42% who like the law + 27% who don’t) want to see Congress make Obamacare work. Blackburn writes that “we have seen just how frustrated people are with the impact ACA is having on their lives.” Yes we have, and the answer is “not very.” Asked in the Pew poll how the health care law “has affected you and your family,” a whopping 20 percent said “mostly negative”; the rest were neutral or positive, and just 38 percent think Obamacare has had a negative effect on the country as a whole.

Poll numbers, one can readily concede, do not reveal Obamacare to be wildly popular. Even so, it is nonsense pure and simple to assert as Blackburn does that “the rest of America” sees a train wreck. People may not fully understand health care reform (only 25% told Pew they grasp its impact “very well”), and may be apprehensive about their own health security (hell, who isn’t?). But it is sophistry of the semi-unhinged variety to hold out public opinion as the basis for an argument that the thing is “unworkable.” To the contrary, it’s actually something that most of us want to see work.

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.

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