The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll
has some mixed news for President Obama on health care. On the one hand, people would solidly support his proposals if they were properly explained -- but he's currently held back by misinformation.
"From what you have heard about Barack Obama's health care plan, do you think his plan is a good idea or a bad idea?" the poll asked. Only 36% of Americans said they believed Obama's health care plan is a good idea, while 42% believe its a bad idea.
Respondents were then given this description of certain points of the plan, in terms of regulations and taxes:
The plan requires that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing medical conditions. It also requires all but the smallest employers to provide health coverage for their employees, or pay a percentage of their payroll to help fund coverage for the uninsured. Families and individuals with lower-and middle-incomes would receive tax credits to help them afford insurance coverage. Some of the funding for this plan would come from raising taxes on wealthier Americans.
After the description was read, the numbers shifted to 53% in favor, to only 43% against. Granted, this description didn't go into such points as a public option or co-ops -- maybe because this description only went into the parts that Democrats themselves have in some kind of order right now -- but it does show the general trend here that more information equals more support.
However, the respondents were also read a list of dire predictions that town hall protesters have made and asked whether they believed they are likely or unlikely to occur:
â¢ Will give health insurance coverage to illegal immigrants: Likely 55%, Unlikely 34%.
â¢ Will lead to a government takeover of the health care system: Likely 54%, Unlikely 39%.
â¢ Will use taxpayer dollars to pay for women to have abortions: Likely 50%, Unlikely 37%.
â¢ Will allow the government to make decisions about when to
stop providing medical care to the elderly: Likely 45%, Unlikely 50%.
You see that -- 45% say the government will have the power to pull the plug on grandma, as Chuck Grassley would say.
Steve Benen comments that this situation "points to a political discourse that's badly broken," one that "creates an enormous incentive to lie, blatantly and repeatedly, to the public. There are no real penalties, and the number of Americans who'll believe nonsense skews the debate in the liars' direction."