Public Views On Congress and Obamacare

Not surprisingly Gallup found this week that American confidence in Congress continues to drop, now at a new low of 10 percent. This compares to 36 percent for the presidency. Confidence in the presidency is probably tied to partisan views. Lack of confidence in Congress is one viewpoint where both left and right can agree, even if blaming the other side. Non-partisan Americans can also see that something is seriously wrong.

The determination of Republicans to avoid passing anything beneficial under Obama, and the Republican misuse of the filibuster have created an unprecedented gridlock which in the end leaves nobody satisfied. Our only way out of this is for more voters to realize that the two parties are not mirror images of each other and are not equally to blame. Those who do understand this must vote in midterm elections, and must vote in elections for the state legislature, to reduce the Republican advantages due to the typically more conservative electorate in midterm elections and gerrymandering.

While it doesn’t receive as much interest, my favorite line in these annual polls is that showing that the organization which Americans have the second lowest confidence in is HMO’s, at 19 percent.

Republicans have been excited about polls which show low public support for Obamacare, but they fail to realize that opposition to Obamacare is primarily based upon conservative misinformation. When asked about the specifics of Obamacare, even Republicans look at it more favorably. Republicans try to avoid providing any alternative as, while the Affordable Care Act certainly is far from perfect, it is preferable to what proceeded it and preferable to what Republicans have advocated. Having qualms about Obamacare does not mean one supports either a return to the abuses of the insurance industry, such as dropping people when they became sick or denying coverage for preexisting conditions, or the Republican alternative of forcing people to pay more out of their own pocket.

Jonathan Chait discussed this further:

A new poll out shows that the public, by a ten-point margin, trusts Democrats over Republicans on health-care issues. By a 52–34 percent margin, they want Congress to implement or tinker with the law rather than repeal it. The nearly ubiquitous conservative belief that the public shares its passion for repealing Obamacare is a spate of self-delusion…

What Republicans have going for them is that health care is really complicated, people don’t spend hours a day boning up on public policy, and those who have insurance understandably fear losing what they have. But the vast majority of the public is not going to see any changes under the new law. Even if the Obamacare exchanges collapse, they only bring in people who don’t have Medicare or employer coverage anyway and are already suffering through a dysfunctional individual insurance market. The “shock” is going to be felt by conservatives who are expecting their Randian fantasies of socialist dystopia to come true.