Polls can be manipulated to get the results you want. It all depends on the questions you ask. And often its a matter of asking incomplete questions or not clarifying what it is that people are actually saying. Such is the case with support for the Affordable Care Act. Republicans love to call it Obamacare so that Republicans who don’t like Obama will be against it, even through it was the US Congress not President Obama who passed the legislation. But their strategy is not working as a close analysis of polling shows.
Charles M Blow in the New York Times in an article entitled Kamikaze Congress points out how right wing Tea Party Republicans in the US House continue their relentless drive to try to undo the Affordable Care Act as if a majority of Americans oppose it.This is their strategy:
Delay and defund. And default.
That is the House Republicans’ brilliant plan in their last-ditch effort to block implementation of the Affordable Care Act. It is a plan that threatens to grind the government to a halt and wreak havoc on the economy.
If they can’t take over Washington, they’ll shut it down. It’s their way or no way. All or nothing.
This is what has become of a party hijacked by zealots.
The problem is that the majority of Americans do not support what they are trying to do. Republicans seriously misread the polling data and the American public. And it all has to do with understanding the actual polling data.
Tea Party Republicans in the House are blinded by their hatred of President Obama and thus continue their unrelenting drive to try to deny him any victory – having voted some 42 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The problem is as Blow points out:
Some of them twist poll results to buttress their bitterness. They point to polls showing that most Americans opposed the law as fuel for their fight. What they neglect to reveal is that a sizable portion of those who opposed the law do so because they don’t think it goes far enough, not because it goes too far. A May CNN/ORC poll found that 43 percent of Americans favored the law while 54 percent opposed it. But it also found that of those polled, 16 percent opposed the law because they thought that it wasn’t liberal enough. Put another way, 59 percent of Americans support the law or want it to be more liberal.
Furthermore, a poll released this week by the Pew Research Center found that of the 53 percent of Americans who said they disapproved of the law, the percentage who want elected officials who oppose the law to try to make it work as well as possible was larger than the percentage who wanted them to try to make it fail.
The American people are not on the far right’s side in battle. House Republicans are on a quixotic mission.
These results are significant and point out how polling can be used to manipulate and misinterpret what it is the public actually believes. There are many of us, including me, who believe the law does not go far enough. That should not be falsely interpreted as our wanting to see the Affordable Care Act repealed. Instead we are pushing for a better system, like a single payer system or expanding Medicare to cover everyone, so that we can remove the money that goes to pay corporate healthcare executives and billing companies and others, and put it toward actually providing healthcare at a much cheaper cost, like many other European Countries currently do.
As PBS points out in “Health Costs: How the US Compares to Other Countries”
$8,233 per year? That’s how much the U.S. spends per person.
That figure is more than two-and-a-half times more than most developed nations in the world, including relatively rich European countries like France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. On a more global scale, it means U.S. health care costs now eat up 17.6 percent of GDP.
We can do better. Going backward like Tea Party zealots in the US House of Representatives propose is a losing proposition.
Mr. Romney’s experience at Bain is at the heart of his case for the presidency. He has repeatedly promoted his years working in the “real economy,” arguing that his success turning around troubled companies and helping to start new ones, producing jobs in the process, has prepared him to revive the country’s economy. He has fended off attacks about job losses at companies Bain owned, saying, “Sometimes investments don’t work and you’re not successful.” But an examination of what happened when companies Bain controlled wound up in bankruptcy highlights just how different Bain and other private equity firms are from typical denizens of the real economy, from mom-and-pop stores to bootstrapping entrepreneurial ventures. Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain’s funds.”
“The central themes of the Romney plan are a rehash of Republican education ideas from the past thirty years, namely, subsidizing parents who want to send their child to a private or religious school, encouraging the private sector to operate schools, putting commercial banks in charge of the federal student loan program, holding teachers and schools accountable for students’ test scores, and lowering entrance requirements for new teachers. These policies reflect the experience of his advisers, who include half a dozen senior officials from the Bush administration and several prominent conservative academics, among them former Secretary of Education Rod Paige and former Deputy Secretary of Education Bill Hansen, and school choice advocates John Chubb and Paul Peterson. …Romney offers full-throated support for using taxpayer money to pay for private-school vouchers, privately-managed charters, for-profit online schools, and almost every other alternative to public schools.”
“Romney will encourage private sector involvement in higher education, by having commercial banks again serve as the intermediary for federal student loans, an approach Obama had eliminated 2010 as too costly. (Until 2010, banks received guaranteed subsidies from the federal government to make student loans, while the government assumed nearly all the risk. When the program was overhauled by the Obama Administration, billions of dollars in bank profits were redirected to support Pell Grants for needy students.) To cut costs, Romney encourages the proliferation of for-profit online universities.”
“…It is past time to abolish the program, root and branch. …… the case against ObamaCare extends far beyond questions about its constitutionality. President Obama‘s program is an unfolding disaster for the American economy, a budget-busting entitlement, and a dramatic new federal intrusion into our lives.It is precisely for those reasons that I’ve opposed a one-size-fits-all health care plan for the entire nation. What we need is a free market, federalist approach to making quality, affordable health insurance available to every American. Each state should be allowed to pursue its own solution in this regard, instead of being dictated to by Washington.”
“The nation’s health care tab is on track to hit $4.6 trillion in 2020, accounting for about $1 of every $5 in the economy, government number crunchers estimate in a report …
How much is that? Including government and private money, health care spending in 2020 will average $13,710 for every man, woman and child, says Medicare’s Office of the Actuary.
Compare it to this year, when U.S. health care spending is projected to top $2.7 trillion, about $8,650 per capita, or roughly $1 of $6 in the economy. Most of those dollars go to provide care for the sickest people.
Along with rising costs, the report found that the share of the health care tab paid by the government keeps growing, approaching half the total. …
…the United States continues to spend far more on health care than other economically developed countries. The study by the Commonwealth Fund found that U.S. health care spending per person in 2008 was more than double the median – or midpoint_ for other leading economies. ”
If you followed Romney’s business practices to maximize profit to his private investors, expect that the same way he putting maximizing profit of his investors over retaining or creating jobs, he would as president let insurance companies once again drop patients that were costing too much and also allow insurance companies to pick and choose who they decide to insure in the first place. There is nothing inherently ethical about creating profit but there is about caring or not caring for and helping America’s sick. That is why keeping health care protection as a public good is necessary. The Romney Business Takeover Model to maximize profit for the few regardless of the cost and pain to the many needs to be rejected.
America can not afford to elect Romney and adopt the Romney Business Model of maximizing profits for the wealthy few. They are pushing what is essentially a hostile takeover of public education and health care and other services now provided by our Federal Government and want to privatize as much as possible for private gain. Creating wealth for a few at the expense of the many is a recipe for disaster for our country.
Keith Obermann in a recent interview in the New York Times magazine apply summed up the reality facing Democrats as they head into the next big election in 2012. “This is a freaking war out there.”
The war started two years ago when Republicans in Congress decided that their game plan was to be the Party of No. Democrats, especially starting from the top down, need to engage in battle for what we believe in. We need to be fighting for the American people and letting them know we are doing it.
Here is the question asked Keith Obermann by Deborah Solomon that aptly points out the current reality for Democrats.
It’s certainly true that Democrats have been criticized for not getting angry enough and wimping out. Do you think President Obama lacks vitriol?
Now we will have Mitch McConnell saying you need to repeal health care reform, you need to defund health care reform. This is a freaking war out there, and it is to me somewhat unrealistic to approach it any other way. I’m not saying that President Obama should throw off the dignity of the office and start going in and head-butting opponents.
The reality is that we will lose this war unless we speak out and engage to defend our principles and fight for doing what is right. Defending the changes that benefit the American public in the new Heath Care law passed by Congress are a given. We need to engage in setting the dialogue and not let Republicans criticize away without pushing back..
You know Sarah Palin was right in a way when she talked about “Death Panels” They exist. But its not the government that was setting them up. They already existed. They are called insurance companies.
Before passage of the current legislation, insurance companies could deny coverage for “pre-existing” conditions. They could refuse to insure you. They could drop your coverage if they didn’t want to pay for needed medical expenses. They could refuse to pay for certain procedures. These death panels ruled based on their bottom line of profits. They made life and death decisions based not on health care needs of people like your Grandmother or Grandfather but on the financial return to their investors.
Republicans want to repeal the health care legislation passed by Democrats. They want to once again give life and death decisions back to the Death Panels hidden behind the corporate boardrooms of large insurance companies.
Democrats and others need to speak out against this attempt to undo the historic legislation passed by Democrats. We don’t need to go back to the past nor can we afford to. The choice is simple. It’s a choice between corporate profits or making health care a right for everyone, not a privilege that only the wealthy can afford.
An article published in today’s Seattle Times states that supporters of the the health care legislation supported by President Obama and passed by Democrats in Congress now outnumber opponents The Associated Press-GfK poll showed 45% in favor of the legislation to 42% opposed.
The poll found support increased since May among men (from 36 percent to 46 percent), people in their prime working years (from 35 percent to 49 percent among 30- to 49-year-olds) and Republicans (from 8 percent to 17 percent.) The uptick among Republicans comes even as party leaders are calling for the law’s repeal.
The article credits the increased support on the public supporting a number of key provisions of the bill including:
“…coverage for young adults on their parents’ plan until they turn 26; a $250 rebate check for older people with high prescription costs; tax credits for some small businesses that cover their employees; and federal money to train more primary-care doctors and nurses”
Significantly the poll found that the public trusts the Democrats to do a better job of handling health care than Republicans by a margin of 51% to 39% That’s not surprising considering that no Republicans supported the legislation and they made every effort they could to obstruct reform of health care to try to prevent Obama from passing the legislation and having a significant legislative victory.
Republican obstructionist tactics failed and are a sign of the lack of new ideas or an agenda that appeals to Americans interested in solving our countries problems rather than engaging in partisan politics Obama is developing a track record despite the childish tactics of the Republicans who are more intent on trying to get back into power than on dealing with our problems. Electing naysayers and do nothings just isn’t going to happen. The obstructionist tactics of the Republicans are destined to come back and bite the Republicans at the polls.
David Frum last week resigned from the right wing American Enterprise Institute after they cancelled his pay and office. Frum is a former President George W Bush speechwriter and decided to speak his own thoughts rather than follow the current Republican campaign strategy of saying no to anything and everything the Democrats and President Obama proposes. Frum’s comments relate to the just passed health care reform legislation.
The Republicans hope that Congress’s not acting on many critical issues helps Republicans get elected. The only thing they don’t consider in this negative strategy is that the public may wake up and realize that it’s the Republicans that are causing this inaction, not the Democrats.
David Frum, in his column entitled Waterloo on Frum Forum irritated the right wing by his comments that the Republican strategy on health care was and is wrong. It’s not that he’s supporting the Legislation that passed but he believes the Republicans are making a big mistake.
This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage? And even if the votes were there – would President Obama sign such a repeal?
We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat.
His comments were not a one time fluke. He repeated his comments on CNN the next day in an atricle entitled How GOP can rebound from its “Waterloo”
“Some Republicans talk of repealing the whole bill. That’s not very realistic. Even supposing that Republicans miraculously capture both houses of Congress in November, repeal will require a presidential signature.
More relevantly: Do Republicans write a one-sentence bill declaring that the whole thing is repealed? Will they vote to reopen the “doughnut” hole for prescription drugs for seniors? To allow health insurers to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions? To kick millions of people off Medicaid?
It’s unimaginable, impossible.”
Such blunt talk didn’t sit well with his right wing free enterprise think tank employer. Hence his resignation.
While Frum discusses the GOP’s mistakes and problems he also see the issue from a larger perspective which it is important to keep in mind. Consider these comments he made later to the The Globe and Mail in an article entitled David Frum makes no apologies to Republicans
“The health-care status quo is for sure not sustainable. The United States is now spending 17 per cent of its GDP [on health care] and Canada spends about 10. The average in most developed countries is about 10 1/2 and the runner-up in Switzerland spends about 11. If the United States spent as much on health care as Switzerland does per person, relative to the economy, you would liberate six points of GDP. You would get your entire defence budget for free and have two points of GDP left over to pay down your debt.”
Such straight talk is uncommon these days from Republicans. While I don’t agree with his proposed “solutions” to changing the health care reform legislation just passed, it is refreshing to see a Republican discuss some hard realities of the problems that our current health care system has produced.
The Republican myth making nonsense that there is something wrong with Obama and the Democrats in the US Senate using the reconciliation process to resolve the health care impasse is finally being challenged. And the Republican mirage is being shown as just that.
As EJ Dionne Jr points out in his column yesterday in the Seattle Times entitled “The GOP’s astonishing hypocrisy on health care and ‘reconciliation'”
“…The health-care bill passed the Senate last December with 60 votes under the normal process. The only thing that would pass under a simple majority vote would be a series of amendments that fit comfortably under the ‘reconcilation’ rules established to deal with money issues.”
Dionne is responding in his opinion piece to statements by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch trying to paint the Democrats in the US Senate as somehow acting contrary to the views of the founders who wrote the US Constitution. Funny thing is that, as Dionne notes, there is nothing in the US Constitution about 60 Senators needing to be in agreement to pass any piece of Legislation.
But the mirage the Republicans are trying to paint that the Democrats are proposing to do something Republicans would never do is the big joke here. As Dionne notes
“…the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts, which were passed under reconciliation and increased the deficit by $1.7 trillion during his presidency, were “substantive legislation.” The 2003 dividends tax cut could muster only 50 votes. Vice President Dick Cheney had to break the tie. Talk about “ramming through.”
The underlying “principle” here seems to be that it’s fine to pass tax cuts for the wealthy on narrow votes but an outrage to use reconciliation to help middle-income and poor people get health insurance.’
As Media Matters remarks, the media has been slow to challenge the false assertions by the Republicans that there is something wrong with using reconciliation in resolving the differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the health care legislation.
Media Matters notes that the Republicans frequently used the reconciliation process to pass major legislation:
“GOP used reconciliation to pass Bush’s tax cuts. Republicans used the reconciliation process to pass Bush’s 2001 tax cut, the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001; Bush’s 2003 tax cuts, the Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003; and Bush’s 2005 tax cuts, the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 2001 tax cuts would “reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period”; that the 2003 tax cuts would “reduce projected total surpluses by approximately $1.35 trillion over the 2001-2011 period”; and that the 2005 tax cuts would “reduce federal revenues … by $69.1 billion over the 2006-2015 period.”
The Media Matters article has many more instances where reconciliation has been used by the US Senate, noting that some 21 bills were passed by reconciliation between 1980 and 2005.
The Democrats need to move forward and act on passing health care legislation. The Republican’s goal here is not to help more Americans get health care coverage or lower costs. Their goal is to make the Democrats look incompetent in not getting anything done. The Republican goal is to try to get back in power.
What a mistake that would be for our country. It’s under their watch that the economy tanked and deregulation and lack of financial oversight brought us almost to financial disaster comparable to the Great Depression. Let’s move forward to resolve our problems, not backward.
Are there serious flaws in the approach Congress is taking on health care? Business Week estimates that some $700 billion of heath care costs each year are wasted and believes the current reform bills don’t address this problem. They state that a new Thomson Reuters (TRI) report finds that:
A sum equal to roughly one-third of the nation’s total health-care spending is flushed away on unnecessary treatments, redundant tests, fraud, errors, and myriad other monetary sinkholes that do nothing to improve the nation’s health. Cut that figure by half, and there would be more than enough money to offer top-notch care to every one of America’s 46 million uninsured.
The Business Week article attributes the $700 billion wasted as being the result primarily of the fee-for-service system that pays hospitals and doctors based on the quantity of medical services provided, rather than on the quality of care. Without fixing this flaw in the way we provide medical care, the article states health care costs over the next 10 years will double to some $5.2 trillion per year or about 21% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
What is interesting about the article is that it is not against health care reform; in fact it’s emphasis is on ideas that can be implemented now by the medical profession without legislation being required. A number of these ideas are ones that consumers and patients and the medical profession should be demanding that action be taken on because it is absurd that we have a health care system that is dysfunctional and outrageously expensive compared to that of other industrialized nations in the world.
Here is a list of their 10 ideas to cut health care costs now:
1.Crack down on fraud and abuse
2. Develop a healthy workforce
3. Coordinate care through family doctors
4. Make health a community effort
5. Stop infections in hospitals
6. Get patients to take their medicine
7. Discuss options near the end of life
8. Use insurance to manage chronic disease
9. Let well-informed patients decide
10. Apologize to the patient.
Wendell Potter is the former Head of Communications for CIGNA Corporation – one of the largest health insurers in the US. Over on Common Dreams.org he now writes about how the health insurance industry has worked to sabotage health care reform for years.
Here are some of his remarks. I urge you to read the full article, entitled, “How Health Insurance Drives Debate” . He notes how the health insurance industry has been working behind the scenes to drive the debate and most people don’t see it. Their bottom line is not health care or the patients but profits. If patients are not profitable they get their policies dropped.
As Potter explains,
“… the industry funnels millions of its policyholders’ premiums to big public relations firms that provide talking points to conservative talk show hosts, business groups and politicians. I also described how the PR firms set up front groups, again using your premium dollars and mine, to scare people away from reform.
What I’m trying to do as I write and speak out against the insurance industry I was a part of for nearly two decades is to inform Americans that when they hear isolated stories of long waiting times to see doctors in Canada and allegations that care in other systems is rationed by “government bureaucrats,” someone associated with the insurance industry wrote the original script.
The industry has been engaging in these kinds of tactics for many years, going back to its successful behind-the-scenes campaign to kill the Clinton reform plan.
Potter is very explicit in warning Americans that the previous efforts to kill health care reform and today’s opposition are not spontaneous but are coming from the health care industry efforts to continue making profits off our current dysfunctional system that is profit based not care based.
Potter ends with this comment:
“The industry goes to great lengths to keep its involvement in these campaigns hidden from public view. I know from having served on numerous trade group committees and industry-funded front groups, however, that industry leaders are always full partners in developing strategies to derail any reform that might interfere with insurers’ ability to increase profits.
So the next time you hear someone warning against a “government takeover” of our health care system, or that the creation of a public health insurance option would send us down the “slippery slope toward socialism,” know that someone like I used to be wrote those terms, knowing it might turn many of the very people who would benefit most from meaningful reform into unwitting spokespeople for the industry.”
Such a sad commentary is unfortunately the case. The very people who would benefit from health care reform are arguing against it. If they have anything to be mad about it should be the lies and lack of coverage and shady tactics and outrageous costs that create so many problems for the very citizens the current private health care system is saying they can do a better job of helping than a public option would.
It’s obvious that the current health care system is class oriented in that it serves those with money best and does not believe in equality of care. Health care should be a right. Unfortunately in America it is a privilege driven by money. That is wrong.
The media seems to be working overtime to keep the new Obama “Reality Check” website on health care secret. We’re publishing it up front so you can see it for yourself. Its www.WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck .
But read the print edition of the Seattle Times. today. Nowhere does it publish the link. Only if you go online and read the same article can you can find a link to the site. Why is it not published in the print edition? The article is a reprint of an article written by the New York Times.
Go to today’s print edition of the New York Times of the same article and it also does not provide a specific link. It mentions that “The White House on Monday started a new website to fight questionable but potentially damaging charges that Presidents Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nations health care system would inevitably lead to “socialized medicine”, “rationed care” and even forced euthanasia for the elderly.” But they only show a small picture of it do do not provide a web address to go to. Only by going to the New York Times article on the web can you find a link.
The Washington Post on line today notes that “On Monday, the White House launched a new online “Reality Check” on its Web site featuring administration officials rebutting critics’ claims.” But strangely it does not provide a link or website address for the White House website.
Various media outlets seem to be working overtime giving coverage to outrageous poster slogans and deliberate orchestrated efforts by Republicans and conservatives to kill any health care reform. Why does a picture of an absurd slogan or someone yelling to stop debate on discussion on health care deserve more coverage than the simple act of putting up the web address to Obama’s rebuttal of the right wing’s frantic efforts to prevent health care reform?
The media in this case seems to be more in the business of entertainment than providing the public function of information dissemination. Facts about public policy and fostering discussion lose out to slogans, and yelling and screaming by a vocal minority. How is the media doing the public a service by covering the antics of the right wing which is offering no answer to rising health care costs or lack of adequate health care coverage or loss of health care coverage.
Where’s the truth here? Is the media being hoodwinked by the right wing? The right wing’s goal is to stop Obama, is to stop anything that gives Obama momentum to bring about change and to re-institute the conservative policies that contributed to our present recession and multitude of problems that were not addressed while the Republicans were in control. Is the media carrying the water for the right wing conservatives by giving them so much coverage when they don’t deserve it?
The question here is one the media needs to look at. Is it a circus they should be covering or is it helping to try to resolve health care problems that exist in this country? They can help the public by trying to factually deal with health care issues. They could start by helping to insure that the public has access to the proposals being considered by Congress and the President and doing simple things like providing links and web addresses to what the President is saying. Or just a simple thing like publishing the web address www.WhiteHouse.gov/RealityCheck .
The website has a number of videos where response is given to criticism of Obama’s health-care reform. Here are some of the areas covered:
CEA Chair Christina Romer details how health insurance reform will impact small businesses.
Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes tackles a nasty rumor about euthanasia and clearly describes how reform helps families.
Matt Flavin, the White House’s Director of Veterans and Wounded Warrior Policy, clears the air about Veteran’s benefits.
Kavita Patel, M.D., a doctor serving in the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, explains that health care rationing is happening right now and how reform gives control back to patients and doctors.
Bob Kocher, M.D., a doctor serving on the National Economic Council, debunks the myth that health insurance reform will be financed by cutting Medicare benefits.
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