Free Markets, Free People

Two Reasons Americans Don’t Want Obamacare

While the rest of the nation ponders whether Kanye West is a “jackass” and President Obama was correct in calling him that, I’ve been thinking about why the Democrats and Obama are having such a tough time selling their health care proposals.

Obviously part of the push back by the people has been because of the recession. Common sense says you don’t exacerbate a bad financial situation by adding debt. Nothing anyone has claimed about the “health care savings” reform would bring has resonated with the public. That’s because people don’t believe or trust the rosy estimates that Democrats have used. And of course it hasn’t helped that the CBO has shot down just about every one of their claims as well.

In fact it looks a lot like 1993 all over again according to an ABC/Washington Post poll released today:

Sixteen percent of the respondents to the most recent poll say their health care would improve if the proposed changes are enacted, and 32 percent say their health care will be worse if that happens.

By comparison, the same poll in late September of 1993 found 19 percent saying their health care would improve and 31 percent saying it would get worse.

Even deploying Obama to use his vaunted oratorical skills to turn the tide hasn’t worked according to another poll:

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken after the president’s dramatic address to a joint session of Congress last week shows Americans almost evenly divided over passing a health care bill and inclined to think it would make some of the system’s vexing problems worse, not better.

Six in 10 say Obama’s proposal, if enacted, would not achieve his goals of expanding coverage to nearly all Americans without raising taxes on the middle class or lowering the quality of health care. For the first time, a majority disapprove of the way he’s handling health care policy.

So what’s the problem? Why does public opinion seem so dead set against what Democrats feel is beneficial legislation for all?

Well, what Obama and the Democrats are running up against is the same problem Bill Clinton et. al experienced. People, for the most part, are quite satisfied with the insurance they have and don’t want to chance government messing that up. And they understand that the chance of government messing it up, given how government does most things, is very high.

Although polls have consistently shown that just over half of Americans think the health-care system is in need of reform, a substantial majority say they are satisfied with their own insurance and care. Any hope of change will require their support, according to experts and advocates across the ideological spectrum.

“They are critical,” said Drew E. Altman, president and chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health research organization. “This debate will turn on people like this trying to answer the question ‘Will this benefit my family?’ “

Most are concluding it won’t benefit their family and, in fact, may end up being detrimental to them.

Democrats seem to be missing the point that while health care reform is popular, their version of health care reform isn’t. I guess health care reform somewhat resembles porn – the people will know it when they see it. But they’re not seeing it in the proposals the Democrats are offering right now – and that is why there’s this massive push back.

The majority of those opposed do not believe the claims that nothing will change pertaining to their health care. It simply doesn’t makes sense to them that the scope and goals of the change being discussed won’t effect their coverage.

Then there are the seniors:

One of President Obama’s biggest challenges this fall will be persuading seniors to accept his healthcare proposals. Many elderly voters are deeply worried about “Obama-care” because they fear that his plans will reduce their coverage and increase their costs. Seniors, in fact, are more opposed to Obama’s healthcare ideas than any other age group.

Of course the irony, as pointed out any number of times, is that most seniors are on a government program. Rarely pointed out is the fact that they have no choice in the matter. Consequently those who love to point this out and crow about how seniors “like” their government insurance never follow that up with the fact that seniors are forced into a system which may or may not have been their first choice.

But that aside, seniors don’t like change. And, they’re smart people who understand that they are the demographic that spends the most on health care. Given that understanding, when the goal of “cutting costs” is put forward as a primary goal of the reform being discussed, they know where those cuts are most likely to be made.

But they have developed a deep skepticism toward Obama’s agenda of expanding the reach and power of Washington. They basically agree with the conservative attack that he is a liberal zealot who wants to inject the government into every nook and cranny of American life—including everyday decisions about the choice of doctors and medical plans, pollsters say. Some seniors specifically fear that the healthcare overhaul will take money away from their cherished Medicare program, and they don’t want to take that risk.

Only 35 percent of people 65 and older approve of Obama’s handling of healthcare, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll in August …

Their defense of a government medical insurance program for themselves and their skepticism of further government intrusion into our lives isn’t quite as contradictory (or ironic) once you understand the whys and wherefores of the mandatory nature of Medicare. Seniors aren’t interested in more government or the chance that the only insurance available to them will be cut to meet a savings goal.

Those are how the planets are lining up in the health care reform universe. Obama and the Dems aren’t succeeding in convincing the skeptics with their arguments. In fact, as it drags on, more skeptics are being born than believers.

The answer, devoid of politics, seems clear. Stop the process right now, reset the debate and actually have one. Find out what “reform” means to the public and act on that consensus. It may end up merely insuring those without insurance. It may be that and tort reform plus opening up the intra-state private insurance markets and eliminating mandates. Or more. Or less. But what should be clear to both the Democrats and Obama at this point is it is not what they’re offering.

The danger to them (electorally) and to us (reduction of liberty) is they’ll disregard that in the name of politics and ram through something we’ll all regret but find difficult get rid of once passed.

That’s what I fear and it appears that’s what some on the left are prepared to do. They have waited too long and have too much invested politically to back off now.



9 Responses to Two Reasons Americans Don’t Want Obamacare

  • Well, the problem is that the Democrats are not seeking reform; rather they are seeking an additional entitlement that will make Americans more dependent upon government and give the government more control over the economy and the lives of Americans.

    There is no grassroots push for healthcare “reform”. Yet, such “reform” was the point policy piece for 0bama and Clinton, because it is a key “reform” that can give Democrats the control and power they seek.

    Hence, a reset to the starting point and real debate are not in any of the Democrats plans. Hence, 0bama and Congress attempted to ram through legislation they hadn’t read and didn’t really understand.

  • You forget reason # 3: They’re racist.

  • Obama will push through something that resembles Health Care reform. And the push will either be 1) Benign enough to encourage some level of bipartisan support or 2) Push some camoflaged public option (co-op or trigger mechanism) through without bipartisan support but seemingly benign enough to at least get the blue dogs to sign on.

    Once passed, they will set the bureaucrats up to have their way with the legislation in such a way as to effectively get the Government control as they wish. The question now becomes how they will disguise the legislation in order to get it through, avoid a political backlash, and get what they want in one single stroke.

  • I love to watch the liberals on television delude themselves into believing that 1) the American people support ObamaCare℠, and 2) that the only people opposing them are “the right wing fringe.” If the second point were true, then the country has moved to majority right wing fringe. If the first were true, they would have 60+ votes for it in the US Senate. By my count, they have less than 50. With Ted Kennedy having assumed room temperature, Bobby “Kleagle” Byrd out for good, you have 58 votes. Take away Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, Mark Pryor, Kent Conrad, Mary Landrieu, and perhaps Jon Tester and several other Democrats from red states, you are now down to 48-49 votes. With Olympia Snowe of Maine going against the public option, that means it is dead, dead, dead as a doornail.

    So, no matter how much the liberal stoopids on television wish to frame it, unless the Demmies ditch the public option, the health care garbage will go down in flames, and thank goodness. I would pay to see Ed Schultz (of “The Mr. Ed Show” on MSDNC) have a stroke right on the air.

  • Things like being able to switch insurance without getting reamed in premiums if you have a job change and you have a pre-existing condition would probably be popular on its own.

    People may even want some kind of charity for those not insured or eligible for an existing programs.

    But, the democrats know if they separate out solutions to those items, they will never ever have a chance of passing the government invasive remainder of their plan.

  • While I think these plans of the Dems are enormously stupid paths to take and I hope that’s not the road we’re on within the next couple of years, let’s not forget that people have been calling for reform of some sorts since the early 90’s. Everyone I know has a horror story about dealing with insurance, denied coverage, etc.

    The republicans were in control of one or both houses for years and in control of both and the White House for 6. They could have implemented some of the modest adjustments during that time.

    They mostly used the time to find ways to retain their office and stuff their pockets, just like the Dems before and after them.