Republican Spin Doctors Misdiagnosing Obamacare

Republican spin doctors are emboldened by public opinion polls that consistently find that a majority of Americans disapprove of Obamacare. For instance, this morning’s Star Tribune carried a New York Times News Service story that was typical of the superficial poll coverage you usually see in the news. The headline read:

“47 percent disapprove of health care law, poll finds”

That headline is perfectly accurate, and Republicans think those findings are, as the Vice President would say, a “BFD.” They conclude that Americans oppose Obamacare because it is an overly radical “government takeover of health care.”

But it would behoove GOP spin doctors to probe more deeply into recent public opinion research. Because a more thorough reading of polls shows Republicans are on shaky ground with their promises to repeal Obamacare and replace it with some kind of a scaled back alternative.

For example, a March 2012 Pew Research poll found 45% disapprove of Obamacare. Romney wins, right?

Not so fast. The same Pew poll also probed why people disapprove, and it turns out that 53% of Americans either want to do as Democratic candidates suggest, “leave it as is” (20%) or “EXPAND IT” (33%), while only 38% want to do what the GOP field wants, to “repeal it.”

That doesn’t exactly look like Americans rising up against “government takeover of health care,” as GOP candidates continually portray it. According to that poll, most Americans want Obamacare as is, or supersized.

Likewise, a March 2012 Bloomberg poll finds that 57% either agree that the Affordable Care Act “may need small modifications, but we should see how it works” (46%) or “it should be left alone” (11%), while only 37% who think “it should be repealed.”

And then there is a March 2012 Kaiser poll. It finds that 41% of Americans support the Republican solutions of either “repeal and not replace” (23%) or “repeal and replace with a GOP alternative” (18%), while a larger group of 47% supports the Democratic solutions of either “keep law as is” (19%) or “expand the law” (28%).

Finally, Republicans who conclude that those top line Obamacare disapproval numbers indicate that Americans prefer to have Republicans fixing health care in the post-Supreme Court ruling world may want to read further into that Pew poll. Pew found a large plurality of Americans saying that Democrats would “do a better job dealing with health care,” with 49% preferring Democrats and just 35% preferring Republicans.

In other words, be careful what you wish for, Tea Partiers. If the Supreme Court blows up Obamacare, voters may very well prefer to elect Democrats to come up with Plan B.

Reading the top line Obamacare disapproval numbers without digging more deeply into voter research is spin doctor quackery. It’s like a physician concluding that a patient with a headache has a brain tumor, without first digging into detailed diagnostic scans and lab results.

– Loveland

34 thoughts on “Republican Spin Doctors Misdiagnosing Obamacare

  1. Its yet another example of how the media has never really reported the facts about Obamacare accurately, cowed by the tea party zealots, Fox “News” (ALWAYS put that in quotes), and that opponents have spent over $200 million in trying to sway public opinion.

    It would behoove the media to report more on how the very idea of the ACA originated with the Heritage Foundation, was supported by the likes of Jim DeMint and Newt Gingrich and introduced in bills by a number of different Republicans, and of course, was successfully introduced in MA by the Romney.

    Finally, be sure to see Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog to see how close ACA tracks with the Ryan 2.0 Pathway to Prosperous Poverty:

  2. Newt says:

    The CBO just came out with a report saying Obamacare would cost TRIPLE what it originally was sold as a mere 3 years ago. (It was sold as a cost saver, remember?).

    The reason most of Obamacare doesn’t kick in until 2013 is because Obama knew the public would never re-elect him if they got a taste of social medicine prior to Nov. 2012. In the words of the great Nancy Pelosi, “”We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in It.”

    Among the great lies being peddled here (and there are many) is that government can fix healthcare.

    NOTHING will be fixed until the consumer (the patient) has no financial intermmediary between himself and the caregiver.

    You folks are stuck in a time warp in which you bitch about healthcare costs but you fail to understand their root causes. You seek fast-food fixes served up by government mechanisms, which will worsen problems.

    You all could start by admitting that the Democratic Industrial Establishment is motivated (and fueled) by one political tactic – deferral of pain and discomfort (whether medical or fiscal). Like Ponzi schemes, deferral only lasts so long. The gig is almost up.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      On this claim, Politifact says:

      When you compare the years the reports have in common — 2012 to 2019 — gross-cost projections in the the latter study are 8.6 percent higher than in the initial work.

      So there’s some truth in Hurt’s claim that estimates for the cost of health care reform have increased. But his statement implies he projections have doubled, and that’s plain wrong.

      We rate Hurt’s statement Mostly False.

      1. Erik says:

        Would you assert that ObamaCare proponents never lied about costs and configuration of the plan while it was being legislated?

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        I would assert that Democrats used the pre-agreed upon non-partisan budget referee and scorekeeper, CBO, as they do on every piece of legislation…whether they support it or oppose it.

      3. Joe Loveland says:

        Incidentally, that non-partisan budget referee and scorekeeper also recently noted:

        Gross Costs Are Higher, but Offsetting Budgetary Effects Are Also Higher

        The current estimate of the gross costs of the coverage provisions — $1,496 billion through 2021– is about $50 billion higher than last year’s projection; however, the other budgetary effects of those provisions, which partially offset those gross costs, also have increased in CBO’s and JCT’s estimates — to $413 billion — leading to the small decrease in the net 10-year tally.

        Over the 10-year period from 2012 through 2021, enactment of the coverage provisions of the ACA was projected last March to increase federal deficits by $1,131 billion, whereas the March 2012 estimate indicates that those provisions will increase deficits by $1,083 billion.

      4. Erik says:

        Yes, well, the CBO scores the data that its given. That’s agreed on.

        The CBO was given revenues over 10 years and costs over 6 years. That’s grossly misleading, and the Republicans made a legitimate critique of it at the time. To which the Democrats said, “yes but the costs don’t exceed the revenues through year 10”.

        Its obtuse, obviously.

        You’re a Democrat PR guy, so I have some skepticism that I can get you talk in terms of lies and then acknowledge a Democrat lie. But really. That’s not a lie? Really?

      5. Erik says:

        Actually, if you’re going to lean on Politifact, then I think Newt and I can use our standing here at SRC to insist you address Democrat ObamaCare claims in terms of truths or lies. I’d be happy if you started with the question above as I laid it out.

      6. Joe Loveland says:

        Re: Erik’s question “would you assert that Obamacare proponents never lied about cost and configuration of the plan while it was being legislated”

        I assume what you mean is that lies about costs were told that are now the genesis of CBO’s adjusted estimates.

        If so, I would again point you to CBO, and let the non-partisan budget scorekeepers speak for themselves. CBO doesn’t say anything remotely close to “costs are higher because claims during the legislative debate have been found to be lies.”

        Rather, CBO reports:

        The Revisions in Estimates Reflect Legislative, Economic, and Technical Changes

        The major sources for the differences between the March 2011 and March 2012 projections are the following:

        New Legislation. Several laws were enacted during the past year that changed the estimated budgetary effects of the insurance coverage provisions of the ACA.

        Changes in the Economic Outlook. The March 2012 baseline incorporates CBO’s macroeconomic forecast published in January 2012, which reflects a slower recovery when compared with the forecast published in January 2011 (which was used in producing the March 2011 baseline).

        Technical Changes. The March 2012 baseline incorporates updated projections of the growth in private health insurance premiums, reflecting slower growth than the previous projections. In addition, CBO and JCT made a number of other technical changes in their estimating procedures.”

        These kinds of adjustments happen with every piece of legislation post-enactment. Economic forecasts change. New legislation gets passed, striken and revised. CBO is just doing an updated snapshot of the world as they currently understand it, this is not an indictment of the orginal CBO cost estimates.

  3. Joe Loveland says:

    Of course, the insurance mandate is what bothers most people. But I imagine even those findings would improve if respondents were told that they only about 2% of the population will be required to pay newly purchased insurance or pay a penalty.

  4. Newt says:

    Joe – the legislation is abysmal and bankrupting, but the real issue is Constitutional. The overrreach of Obama’s federal government is at epidemic proportions – from forcing religious institutions to subsidize practices against their beliefs to individual insurance mandates.

    It’s an all-out assault on liberty – our freedom to be free FROM government.

    My gut says it will backfire, but it’s going to be close.

      1. Erik says:

        Are you dismissive of that notion? The broccoli argument has served as the framework for a pretty serious hypothetical discussion.

        And you’d really object if broccoli consumption was mandated for the common good?

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Yes, count me as submissive. It’s a silly straw man argument.

        Through many types of experiments with different models, the U.S. has proven over many decades that we can’t figure out a way to have a functional health insurance market if we don’t have the broad risk exposure that only a mandate can bring. We just can’t. Without a mandate, the health insurance market has been distorted and made completely inefficient by rampant cost-shifting and delay of care. A mandate is necessary to make the health insurance market a functional part of our overall national economy. Plain and simple, it is necessary regulation of interstate commerce.

        However, we absolutely can, and do, have a fully functional broccoli market without a mandate. If only a small fraction choose to buy broccoli, the market can function. But if only a fraction of the oldest and sickest buy health insurance, that market can’t function. Health insurance is a unique kind of market, because it just doesn’t work unless the market includes both young and old, sick and well. Not true of broccoli market.

      3. Erik says:

        That’s not the argument / question. The argument is that broccoli is good for, so the question is can the government force you to consume it so as to reduce health costs. Not whether the broccoli market functions.

      4. Joe Loveland says:

        The argument I hear, about every other call on talk radio, is that if they can mandate health coverage, they can mandate any product, such as broccoli. Well, no they can’t. Because mandating health insurance is constitutionally permissible regulation of interstate commerce, for the very unique the reasons stated, while mandating broccoli clearly is not. Again, health insurance is a unique kind of market, because it just doesn’t work unless the market includes both young and old, sick and well. Not true of broccoli market. For that reason, forcing consumers to eat broccoli could not stand the constitutional test.

      5. Joe Loveland says:

        Also, Americans aren’t showing up in the produce department to take loads of broccoli home for free, thus forcing the broccoli retailers to shift the billions in costs to its broccoli customers, giving the U.S. the most expensive broccoli in the world…thus limiting our overall international competitiveness. The broccoli market is not broken in the unique way the health insurance is, and it does not harm national commerce the unique way the broken health insurance and health care markets do.

        It was eery to hear how much the Supremes sounded remarkably like conservative talk radio jocks on Open Line Fridays. Broccoli, broccoli, broccoli.

      6. Joe Loveland says:

        Reagan Solicitor General Charles Freid:

        “I was appalled to see that at least a couple of them were repeating the most tendentious of the Tea Party type arguments. I even heard about broccoli. The whole broccoli argument is beneath contempt. To hear it come from the bench was depressing.”

      7. Erik says:

        Money Quote:

        “Or it could have enacted a broadly based tax to pay for the health care it wants to subsidize.

        It didn’t — and this brings us to the third point — for a couple of reasons. One was that reform advocates didn’t seriously entertain the constitutional vulnerability of the mandate. But the bigger reason is a more familiar one in Washington these days: None of the politicians wanted to acknowledge the costs.

        [… ]When President Obama was running in 2008, he insisted he could deliver universal coverage without a mandate. Once in office, he found that wasn’t true. But he still didn’t want to use the word “tax,” and neither did anyone in Congress.”

  5. Newt says:

    Today’s word by the most liberal court observers is that the Supremes are decimating the government’s case. Why? Because it’s Constitutionally indefensible.

    Which makes me laugh because liberals seem blindsided that the Constitution (a) stands for something and (b) is being used effectively. What kind of vaccuum do they live in that Constitutionality is a surprise tactic?

    Hopefully we are witnessing a rare beat-down of bare knuckles politics, shrill cries and raw emotion by the Rule of Law. I hope I’m right about the ruling to come.

  6. john sherman says:

    One of the problems is that we have a populace that wants to eat hot fudge sundaes all day and lose weight. The people, including apparently almost all Republicans, are okay with the idea that insurance companies should not be able to deny people care for pre-existing conditions, not be able to kick people out of their programs for getting sick, not be able to cap expenditures. How you make that work without a mandate is a mystery to me. The notion that someone should be able to not buy health care until he gets sick and then he should get it for regular price is apparently what opponents of the mandate are arguing. Okay, you can buy house insurance after it catches on fire or car insurance after a collision, when are you going to buy house or car insurance?

    Canceling the mandate and keeping the other obligations would bankrupt the insurance companies, and that would be okay with me because then we could finally get to the single payer system we should have had in the first place, but I don’t thinks that’s what conservatives are arguing.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      It did sound like the conservative majority may be lined up. Elections have consequences on the Supreme Court, and the GOP has won more elections over recent years.

      But I do wonder if the SC striking down the ACA would be good news for conservatives, long-term.

      Substantively, a Supreme Court invalidation will eliminate the only private sector-based manner of achieving universal coverage and eliminating preexisting condition restrictions, two things that an overwhelming majority of Americans will still be demanding. With that private sector model banned from future consideration by the Supremes, it would seem to make a public sector-based solution much more likely down the road. Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences.

      Politically, I’m unsure whether a Supreme Court invalidation hurts Obama in 2012. After all, polls show Americans still feel very strongly about wanting this problem fixed, they do prefer Democrats’ reform ideas (e.g. 65% support Medicare for all) to the very unpopular status quo, and, as the poll cited in the post shows, they trust Democrats on the health care issue much more than Republicans.

      But I do think you may be correct that the Federalist Society fix is in place. If so you will soon be able to bask in the glow of protecting preexisting condition limitations, high uninsured rates, cost shifting, and the most expensive health care system in the world.

  7. Newt says:

    Again, it appears the notion of Constitutionality evades Loveland. It’s all about the next election.

    This confirms my long-held belief that the Constitution is an annoyance to liberals.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Yes, I made a political observation. And I also made a substantive argument.

      I just made an argument that the ACA is constitutionally permissible regulation of interstate commerce, an enumerated power granted to Congress. I have my tri-corner hat on, and am saluting Article I, Section 8, Clause 3.

      Can you seriously maintain that a sector that makes up one-sixth of our national economy and whose enormous economic dysfunctions severely limit our national competitiveness is not “interstate commerce?”

      1. Erik says:

        The question you’ve asked and then provided the answer for is correct.

        Is this what you think is being weighed at the SC? Whether 1/6 of the economy is substantial enough to be defined interstate commerce? I guess misunderstanding is one thing. But part of my own disillusionment is constantly being asked by the left to be sympathetic to bogus premises. Which is why I prefer to evaluate things in terms of truths or falsehoods rather than parse and normalize the various equivalencies.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Re: Evil liberals and the interstate commerce clause

        “Judge (Laurence) Silberman, appointed to the court by Ronald Reagan, was a mentor to Justice Clarence Thomas and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2008. His conclusions align with those of a prominent George W. Bush appointee, Judge Jeffrey Sutton, who wrote a concurring opinion upholding the law as part of a 2-to-1 majority in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati.

        Judge Silberman made short shrift of all the arguments raised by opponents of the reform law, finding no support for their arguments “in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent.” He concluded that the federal government has the power under the Commerce Clause to require that most people obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Despite concerns that this individual mandate encroaches on personal liberty, he ruled that “the right to be free from federal regulation is not absolute, and yields to the imperative that Congress be free to forge national solutions to national problems.”

  8. This is so true. If the Supremes legislate from the bench and overturn the law it’s likely that most Americans will support single payer, expanding Medicare to all.

    1. PM says:

      What is interesting is that Republicans in the House and Senate are now changing their tune, and deciding to support various parts of Obamacare, presumably for the exact reason that you have pointed out (to forestall universal single payer health care).

      But the thing is, you can’t have the popular parts of Obamacare (like pre-existing conditions) without some way of forcing everybody into the system (making everyone eat broccoli, in the words of the Supreme Court). Otherwise, you create a huge free rider/adverse selection system, and all of the private insurance companies will go broke.

      What i would find tremendously sad and ironic would be for the Supreme Court to rule the mandate unconstitutional, Romney to win, and then for Romney and a Republican Congress to create a universal Medicare system. And I would fully expect Fox News to support this completely.

  9. Ellen Mrja says:

    Today’s nyt has a piece on how the public approval rating of the Supreme Court is now at a low of 44%

    Why? Because American’s do not believe the Court (or court, as some of my ‘rabid’ liberal friends refer to it after it handed 2000 over to Bush and, of course, the hellish Citizens’ United) uses Constitutional principles only to decide cases; rather, it let’s politics and personal biases into the chambers.

    You can fully believe this court will overturn the HCA as “overreaching” (but Citizens’ United wasn’t?!), gay marriage as not a right but a proscription dependent upon the states (just like blacks voting was in good ol’ Mississip for such a long time) and then had back into women’s wombs.

    How depressing. At least the court beats Congress out -15%. Worst Congress ever.

    (BTW: Obama at 47%)

    1. Erik says:

      Actually, they overturned McCain-Feingold as “overreaching” as well,

      There’s some sense the Roberts court would find DOMA unconstitutional. We don’t know that yet of course. But in the meantime you could certainly stand to bone up on the facts.

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