The Truth Is, the American Public Doesn’t Know What It Wants

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that public opinion of the Affordable Care Act is still divided, but nearly equally so. In other words, the numbers say that roughly equal numbers of people approve and disapprove of the ACA, and the numbers who report the ACA helped them personally is roughly equal to those who say it hurt them personally.

Kaiser also reported that a majority of Americans have no clue about the King v. Burwell case and are unaware that the Supreme Court could take away exchange subsidies in 34 states.  However, when the situation is explained to them, a “majority of the public, including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and independents, says that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs, the result would have a negative impact on the country (62 percent) and the uninsured (57 percent).”

This suggests to me that a considerable slice of people who disapprove of the ACA think that ending the exchange subsidies would hurt the country.

When asked if Congress should pass a law “correcting” the ambiguous language in the ACA upon which King v. Burwell is based, so that all states could offer subsidies, 64 percent said yes. When it was explained to these same people that if Congress passed such a law it would be harder for Congress to make other major changes to the law, 54 percent still wanted Congress to pass a law to allow all states to get subsidies. And then when it was explained that without congressional action millions would lose insurance, plus the cost of private plans would go up for everybody, up to 77 percent said Congress should act to pass the law.

This tells me that much of the American public still hasn’t figured out exactly what “Obamacare” is and doesn’t know what it wants to do about it. This also tells me that if Republicans succeed in sabotaging the law the American public will be pissed, including a big chunk of those who say they want the law sabotaged. Because they have no freaking idea what’s going on.

Right now House Republicans are at war with each other over the budget. The defense hawks are on one side; the budget hawks are on the other side. But the budget — which calls for slashing Medicare and Medicaid spending, of course — is something of a fantasy.

Without relying on tax increases, budget writers were forced into contortions to bring the budget into balance while placating defense hawks clamoring for increased military spending. They added nearly $40 billion in “emergency” war funding to the defense budget for next year, raising military spending without technically breaking strict caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

The plan contains more than $1 trillion in savings from unspecified cuts to programs like food stamps and welfare. To make matters more complicated, the budget demands the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, including the tax increases that finance the health care law. But the plan assumes the same level of federal revenue over the next 10 years that the Congressional Budget Office foresees with those tax increases in place — essentially counting $1 trillion of taxes that the same budget swears to forgo.

And still, it achieves balance only by counting $147 billion in “dynamic” economic growth spurred by the policies of the budget itself. In 2024, the budget would produce a $13 billion surplus, thanks in part to $53 billion in a projected “macroeconomic impact” generated by Republican policies. That surplus would grow to $33 billion in 2025, and so would the macroeconomic impact, to $83 billion.

Plus rainbows and ponies.

Meanwhile, House Republicans have unveiled another new plan for replacing Obamacare. This is something they do every 20 days or so in order to generate headlines that they have a plan for replacing Obamacare. But their replacement plans are the stuff of rainbows and ponies also, so much so Republicans don’t believe in them, either.

In fact, the Republicans do have a health-care plan: It is to repeal Obamacare and replace it with what we had before Obamacare. They don’t want to admit that’s their plan, but it is. It’s right there, in the new budget released by House Republicans this week. …

… It’s true — Representative Tom Price has a health-care plan. Of sorts. It’s a really sketchy plan that Price has not had scored by the Congressional Budget Office, which allows it to serve the purpose of letting Republicans cite it to refute the charge that they have no plan without being held accountable for its effects. …

… The House budget illustrates the second obstacle to the adoption of a Republican health-care alternative. If Republicans wanted to replace Obamacare with Tom price’s health-care “plan,” they would include it in their budget. Tom Price probably has the clout to get his health-care plan onto the desk of the person in charge of writing the House Republican budget, who also happens to be Tom Price.

But the Price-authored budget ignores the Price health-care plan for the same reason the old Ryan budget ignored the Ryan poverty plan. It’s a thing Republicans want to say they’re for, but don’t want to make the sacrifices necessary to do it. The place where a party reconciles its competing priorities is its budget.

See above about the budget. It doesn’t rise to the level of smoke and mirrors. Your average second-grade elementary school class could write a better budget.

If SCOTUS kills the subsidies in 34 states, the one tangible thing Republicans might do is vote to continue subsidies until after the November 2016 elections, before the bulk of the American public realizes what happened. Because they have no freaking idea what’s going on.

19 thoughts on “The Truth Is, the American Public Doesn’t Know What It Wants

  1. American’s have no idea of much of anything!

    And I blame our “Fourth Estate” for much of that ignorance.

    In between all of the ads, our local newspapers used to do a fairly decent job of plucking local, state-wide, national, Congressional, political, and international news from other source, and explaining things to the readers.
    Many of those papers were independently owned and operated.
    Now, our local paper is run by Gannett, and all they’re interested in is money – and feel no obligation to inform the readers.
    And many local papers are gone.

    And, what’s funny (not in the Ha-ha-ha way), is that back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, you could turn on the network news shows, which ran from 1/2 and hour to an hour, and in that time, Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, and Howard K. Smith and Harry Reasoner, did a reasonable job of keeping most Americans informed of important national and international news, occurrences, and events.
    Now, we’ve got two 24-hour “news” channels, and one conservative propaganda channel, and we’re more confused than back then when, after your local news shows took care of your town, city, and state news, you watched the network news for important national, political, and international news.

    Of course, of those two non-propaganda 24-hour “news” channels, what’s on is either a bunch of loud and obnoxious people screaming and talking over one another in an effort to give “both sides” of an issue – but, which only serve to further confuse the viewers – or some entertainment fluff about the Kardashians, or some other entertainment celebrities who have no discernable talent, except of course, that they’ve been deemed to be important celebrities.
    We had a place for those people back in the day, too. It as called “Hollywood Squares.”

    I think the movie “Idiocracy” understated how f’kin’ stupid Americans are, and will be in the future.

  2. It would be interesting if we could find our way to a nearby parallel universe where a law similar to the ACA was not subjected to a relentless campaign of propaganda and lies. Like maybe there’s a universe where the president is Barack Obumu, and they passed a law commonly referred to as ObumuCare, but the people it’s intended to benefit actually understand what it is. I bet you’d find that ObumuCare was quite a bit more popular than ObamaCare.

  3. “Of course, of those two non-propaganda 24-hour “news” channels, what’s on is either a bunch of loud and obnoxious people screaming and talking over one another in an effort to give “both sides” of an issue – but, which only serve to further confuse the viewers –”

    Hey, c u n d gulag; what is your problem? The news channels cover the entire spectrum of political debate from the middle of the road to the radical right! All the way from whether poor people should have moderate reductions in benefits from the social safety net to whether they should be put into workhouses and made to live on gruel!

  4. Ed,
    What I find most amusing, is the MSM’s acceptance of the Reich-Wingers often repeated meme that deregulation and tax cuts for rich people will incent them to work even harder – but tax cuts and increases in wages for the non-rich, will only make workers lazier.

    But, of course, if you’re one of the elite members of our MSM or our punTWITocracy, then, you’re already well above the rest of us folks in the riff-raff, moocher, taker, and parasite, class!!!

  5. The American health care system in and of itself is very complex. Most people approach any thing as complex as our heath care system by learning and understanding the parts that apply to them. Most of us don’t have time to try to understand it and how it impacts every American. The only way to make it less complex is to go to single payer. Our system will remain complex as long as the insurance companies run the health care system.

  6. Well the problem is that on the right Obamacare has nothing to do with anything you are talking about there. It’s all about the tyrant dictator socialist commie who is using socialism to destroy our country and take our freedom. Its not about healthcare to them. Really, I live in a nest of them and this is true. Of course its still a for profit market based system but dont tell them that. They dont want to hear it.

  7. Oh, btw, here’s one of the greatest – though, horribly sad and tragic songs of all time:

    FSM. I can’t we have to go through this horrible shit again!

  8. This is kind of long winded, but, I had a few minutes and we all hope Maha will be making the most of her new situation. The subject is also an interest of mine, that’s my excuse.

    I agree, “Obamacare” doesn’t really have anything to do with it, except for the “Obama” part. To the puppetmasters a workable national healthcare system is the ultimate nightmare, because it would be a living, abiding example of how government policy targeted at a specific problem can work, and worse yet, how it can make people’s lives better, in a “promote the general welfare” kind of way. It destroys their central premise, that government is inherently tyrannical and incompetent. Worse yet, it solves the kind of problems that tend to be life changing.

    As Bonnie mentioned our healthcare system is very complex. People long for the days when it was simpler. The right has taken advantage of this by summoning the image of a golden age when a couple of plump chickens would gladly be accepted as payment for a visit to the doctor or even a house call. Ben Carson pretends that “nothing should get between a doctor and his patient” as if there is a way to “get there from here.” It’s just another “load of bollocks” as they say on the Brit sitcoms. Just ask any medical office manager to see how many hours they spend on the phone arguing with those nice, generous folks at the insurance companies.

    My wife delivers babies for a disadvantaged population. Before I retired to farming, (from which I am retiring now) I worked with primarily uninsured people who had severe disabilities. We both have a sufficient number of cautionary tales and horror stories. When we travel to places with better healthcare, I am always struck by how much less anxious people are and how much more cohesive the society seems. I am sure a lot of this is confirmation bias, but, still, there may be something to it. Even relatively poor countries that prioritize healthcare, do surprisingly well with very limited resources, check out Dominica sometime.

    France, which arguably has the best healcare system in the world, doesn’t have a single payer system. They have a kind of semi-detached, not for profit health insurance. If that sounds confusing, that’s because I am still confused myself. I do have personal experience of the French medical system, which is excellent, practical and efficient. When one of us needed a “procedure” that wasn’t covered by our expensive health insurance, we discovered that we could spend a week in Paris, a week in Lyon and a week in Aix, pay for the procedure ourselves and STILL save money as compared with what the procedure would cost in the good old USA.

    Here are some simple, but significant comparisons:

    France USA

    Life expectancy 81.66 79.56

    Infant Mortality rate/thousand 3.31 6.17

    % of GDP spent on health care 11.7 17.9

    Median wealth in USD 141,850 44,911

    From here, the “horror of socialism” really doesn’t look so bad, and that’s a problem for the small government, free market, “trust me I’m an enlightened capitalist,” crowd. When someone cures you or your favorite uncle Henry of stage four cancer, you feel like you got a pretty good deal, even if you did tarnish your rugged individuality.

  9. ISIS is claiming 120+ deaths in suicide attacks in Yemen!


    Hey, what happened to my perplexed yellow-circle/but pissed-off of a face?!?!?!

  10. I think the vast majority of Americans want what I want from health care. I want it to cost me nothing in taxes, payments, co-pays, and deductibles, and I want it to pay for everything. The difference between me and the average wingnut, it seems, is that I know that wanting that is silly because it can’t possibly happen. So I’m happy to pay. Preferably I’d like to pay in taxes and have it be a setup like one of the proven methods used in Western Europe, Canada, Japan, or Australia, but even the messy combination of methods we have now is better than what we had before. It’s even less expensive that what we had before (and I know this; another difference between me and the average wingnut) even though it’s not as cheap and effective as those other countries manage to do. But that’s a legacy of the rightwing’s success at pushing their “America, the can’t do country!”.

  11. It is time for these characters to put there money where there mouth is regarding “ORIGINAL INTENT”. They can simply dial up Senators and Representatives that voted for ObamaCare and ask them “What was take on the the State Exchange dealio when you vote for it?”

    Nobody thinks that’s gonna happen either, am I right?

  12. I don’t have any experience with health care in other countries and not so much in this country. Overall, I have been very healthy and not needed it and having worked in the system did not trust it so much. Because of my heart attack I pretty much had to just trust whomever was taking care of me or die. I am still here and am very grateful for it. However, I was shocked to see how much 3 days in the hospital, having a stent put in, and the labs, xrays, etc. added up to. It was over $64,000. Because of Medicare, I ended up owing only $1200. What I have found is that Medicare may not pay that much but the facilities end up adjusting a lot. So I wonder if the people who have insurance are being overbilled and if so that definitely is a reason for the high cost of health care. Obamacare may not be the perfect system but maybe it’s a step in the right direction. I do believe if people understood how Medicare worked they would like to have that for themselves even if it is socialized medicine.

  13. The spacing didn’t copy correctly in my last comment, sorry for the jumble.

    There are so many odds and ends to our health care woes. Somewhere in my mind, there are remnants of a belief in the old America’s ability to solve problems. So, as byzantine and flawed as our system is, I belief, in my boyish heart, that we could change it, if only by one step at a time, and improve it, given the political will. But, of course, there’s the rub. Somewhere along the line our two political camps developed incompatible differences and two clearly disparate visions of our future. If a problem makes for a good political football, it’s unlikely to be solved.

    I do fall in with the single payer group. It really does seem to be both simple and effective. I think Granny is right about Medicare. Beyond that, opponents try to paint it as a generational wedge issue. I am not quite old enough for Medicare, but, because of Medicare, my parents lived longer, healthier lives. They weren’t impoverished by the cost of medical care and I didn’t have to watch them die before their times. So, I’ve already benefited a lot from Medicare.

    I do have some casual observations, but, it might be better not to bore everyone to tears.

  14. Nope.
    I guess I’d better get used to being a fanged purple triangle, with a monocle!

  15. Thanks, grannyeagle!

    But I feel like a Gestapo or SS officer, hiding in South America…

  16. CUNDgulag, regarding the monocle:

    I think I mentioned this before, but, after my first cataract operation the focal lengths of my prescription reading glasses differed so much that the glasses were unusable. So, the answer was a monocle for my dominant eye. It worked great, but, it did tend to draw attention, so I eventually retired it. I’d still recommend one for someone with a similar visual situation. Also, Bonnie and I have one too.

    I suppose in the not so distant future, when I am acceptably ancient, I’ll fish it out along with my white linen suit and bow ties. If people laugh, I’ll just turn off my hearing aids.

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