Poll: Most Americans Confused About Health Care Proposals
According to a new CBS News poll, "two in three Americans call the health care reforms being debated by lawmakers confusing; only 31 percent said they have a clear understanding of the proposed changes. Sixty-seven percent of those questioned said the reform ideas were confusing. This evaluation cuts across party lines, with majorities of both Republicans (69 percent) and Democrats (58 percent) saying the current proposals are confusing." In addition, 60 percent of Americans "say the President has not clearly explained his health care reform plans. While slightly more than half of Democrats think Mr. Obama has clearly explained his plans, majorities of Republicans and independent voters say he has not" (9/1).
The NewsHour broadcast a discussion of media coverage of health care. Trudy Lieberman, contributing editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, says that "the debate has really flown over the heads of most ordinary people," adding that there has been "way, way too much coverage of the process of reform, the process, the politics, and not really very much coverage of the substance: What does this reform really, really mean to me?" Lieberman says this is largely because "it's much easier to cover a protest. It's much easier to cover a rumor. It's much easier to cover death panels or death care. It's really, really much harder for somebody in the media to cover age-rating or the mechanics of risk pools and all those things that really are going into what is going to come out in this health care bill" (8/31).
The Wall Street Journal reports that the anger at town hall meetings is about more than just health care. "They were also eruptions of concern that the government is taking on too much at once. That suggests trouble for the president and his party, and fears of losses in next year's midterm election are likely to shape the Democrats' fall agenda."
"At August's town-hall meetings, voters often started with complaints about health care, only to shift to frustrations about all the other things President Barack Obama and the Democrats have done or tried to do since January. The $787 billion economic-stimulus package, the government-led rescue of General Motors Corp. and climate-change legislation all came in for criticism." Other controversial issues include "snafus in the federal 'cash for clunkers' program," an increase in American casualties in Afghanistan, the appointment of a prosecutor to investigate interrogators at the Central Intelligence Agency. "What we're seeing here is this larger debate about what the role of government is," said William McInturff, a Republican pollster who conducts The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. "The health-care debate is at that fault line" (Adamy and Weisman, 9/1).