Politico’s Pulse summarizes a memo that Obama pollster Joel Benenson sent to Congressional Democrats to boost their confidence on the health-care issue. The memo, which compiles and anaylzes a variety of polls from different sources, has three main findings:
–Voters still see a strong need for reform.
–Large majorities believe that health care will get worse for most Americans if the health care system’s problems are not addressed.
–When they learn more about the specifics of reform, support grows considerably.
On the first two points, he is right. There is a need for reform, and the system will get worse without being reformed. I have been critical of the congressional plans and yet I agree with both of those points. Put me in with the 82% of Americans who think we need to improve our system. But that does not make me a supporter of HR 3200, the House Democrats’ bill. Recognition of reality does not equal agreement on a solution.
As for the third point, it is no surprise if support increases when the bills are described in aspirational terms — e.g. the bill will make it easier to purchase health insurance. When the details of the actual provisions and their effects are made clear — e.g. the bill will include a public option or it will cost a trillion dollars, then you have the miserable August that the White House just endured. Democrats should not take much comfort in these polls. Republicans should look at this memo and prepare to rebut puffery on the provisions with actual details about their effects.