The more they know, the more they like it

One of the very frustrating things about the health care debate is that so many people who are opposed to health care reform are opposed because they simply don't understand it.  The underlying principles of the bills on the table remain quite popular.  Perhaps you could blame Obama and Dems for a failure to communicate, but I think it is mostly that the opponents have communicated more effectively and been perfectly willing to lie and distort to an amazing degree in doing so.  Generally speaking, in politics, the liars win.   Jonathan Chait has a nice run-down of the public support for key provisions of reform:

But polls suggest that Obama's diagnosis has it exactly right. The
more people know about his plan, the more they like it. When read
neutral decsription of his proposal, it enjoys strong support. And a
recent Kaiser Foundation poll
shows this even more strongly. The poll moves through every element of
the Democratic plan. Nearly all of them enjoy strong support:

Prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage or charging
higher premiums because of a person’s medical history or health
condition: 63

Provide tax credits to small businesses that want to offer coverage to their employees: 73

Increase income taxes for individuals making more than $500,000 a
year and couples making more than $1 million a year as a way to help
pay for health reform: 59

Create a health insurance exchange or marketplace where small
businesses and people who don’t get coverage through their employers
can shop for insurance and compare prices and benefits: 67

Provide financial help to people who have incomes below 400 percent
of the federal poverty level – about $88,000 for a family of four – and
who don’t get insurance through their jobs to help them purchase
coverage: 57

This is also, in sharp contrast to GWB's failed attempts at reforming social security, in which the more people learned about the plan, the more they opposed. it.  The numbers above are also why I (and most of the health care pundits I listen to) think that health care reform will be much more popular once (if) Democrats actually get this passed.  A tremendous amount of opposition is ultimately about this ugly process, more so than specifics of reform.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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