White House Health Care Campaign Challenges Translate Into To Slipping Polls
Public anxiety about spending and a proposed public health insurance plan, routine distractions like Henry Lewis Gates Jr.'s arrest, and delays in rebutting Republican's attacks are triggering speculation that President Obama may be loosing his groove when it comes to his famous message discipline, the Boston Globe reports. "In recent weeks, Obama has delivered mixed messages that have bogged down the debate and sapped momentum from his top domestic priority. Republicans, meanwhile, have stepped into the void. and, in a page taken directly from Obama's 2008 playbook, are using a combination of online organization and message-of-the-day discipline to frame the legislation as a government takeover."
Polls show the slippage, too, with an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showing that 45 percent of people believe the government is likely to decide when to end medical care for the elderly, a believe perpetuated by the false allegation that Obama wants to create "death panels." More 55 percent and 54 percent, respectively said the plans would cover illegal immigrants and lead to a total government takeover of the health sector, lines critics push, but Obama refutes (Kranish, 8/21).
However, another poll found that Americans hold ambiguous views about what role the government may take in the current health reform proposals, the Denver Post reports. "Nearly 8 in 10 Americans support a federal health insurance plan for those who can't afford or can't get private insurance, but only 37 percent define 'public option' correctly, a new national poll found." The same poll found that 64 percent of people don't want to pay higher taxes to help the uninsured, and 74 percent of those with insurance said they were unwilling to pay higher premiums (Sherry, 8/25).
Republican lawmakers and conservative voters roundly oppose government taking on a further role in the health system, a topic at the heart of the debate. "'I don't want the government handling any more,' [Sen. Richard Burr, R- N.C.] said in agreeing with one caller [to a radio show on which Burr and other lawmakers were guests] who said the federal government had mismanaged too many programs in the past," the Charlotte News & Observer reports.