04 Aug 2009

Obamacare Support Declining

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Peter Wehner explains that as Americans consider seriously the prospect of a nationalized health care system, they are increasingly realizing the costs are simply too great and finding they are not so discontent with things as they are right now as to willingly assume the burdens of paying for the universal program proposed by democrats. Nor are they really pleased with the prospect of accepting federal regulation, rationing, and control of their own health care.

Support for President Obama’s overhaul of the American health-care system is dropping because he’s not doing enough to “sell” the effort, according to a growing number of liberal voices. The public is deeply sympathetic to what Obama and Democrats want to do; the task for them is simply to instruct the unknowing masses on what is best for them (see Andrea Mitchell’s commentary here). In fact, the problem with Obama’s effort isn’t a failure to communicate; it is his inability to refute health-care facts and figures that, as they become more salient, are undermining his effort.

The most important facts are related to health-care costs. Barack Obama made “bending the curve” the cornerstone of his efforts. The status quo is unacceptable when it comes to the increasing cost of health care, Obama insists; his plan will make health care cheaper. On the contrary, it will dramatically increase costs. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the House bill would cost in excess of $1.2 trillion over the next decade; the Senate Finance Committee bill, around $1 trillion over 10 years. In the words of the CBO, “relative to current law, the [House] proposal would probably generate substantial increases in federal budget deficits during the decade beyond the current 10-year budget window.”

The second set of figures has to do with the number of people insured in America — 85 percent, according to the 2007 Census — and the vast majority’s (83 percent, according to a recent Washington Post–ABC News poll) being either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with the health care they receive, with 81 percent feeling the same way about their insurance. The same poll also found that 84 percent of respondents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned that reform would increase their health-care costs, 82 percent worried it would reduce their health-insurance coverage, and 81 percent worried it would hurt the quality of their care.

President Obama is predicating his overhaul of health care on the assumption that most people are profoundly unhappy with the health care they are receiving. But when an overwhelming majority of the nation are more or less pleased with the product they are receiving, a radical redesign of the system becomes problematic.

There is an old saying: “Everyone’s your brother ’til the rent comes due.”

Free health care services for every indigent wino, junkie, and welfare recipient is a nice idea when somebody else is going to be paying for it, but as ordinary Americans come to their senses and realize that more health services for the uninsured really means less health services for those actually paying for it all, i.e. themselves, all that do-goody-good BS (as Pink Floyd puts it) looks a lot less attractive.

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