Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Do the math, stupid: Health-care reform is popular!

A new poll would seem to suggest that the health-care bill that passed the House Sunday is fairly unpopular with the American people:

A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll found that 59 percent of those surveyed opposed the bill, and 39 percent favored it. All of the interviews were conducted before the House voted Sunday night, but the contents of the bill were widely known.

No, the contents are not widely known, let alone understood. Indeed, I think it's fair to say that a large chunk of the American people simply doesn't know what the hell it's talking about.

But look behind the surface numbers -- and behind the anti-reform, Republican-fed media narrative. And do the math.

As Glenn Greenwald rightly notes, it's not as simple as 39 percent for reform and 59 percent against it, as the 59 percent includes 13 percent who oppose the bill because it's "not liberal enough":

Thus, a majority of Americans either support the plan or believe it should be more liberal (52%), while only a minority (43%) oppose the plan on the ground that it is too liberal.

This is a point that many reform advocates have been making for a long time, but it's one that apparently needs to be repeated again and again in the face of the same old media bias that we've come to expect.

To counter it, and to counter the same old Republican propaganda, Obama and the Democrats need to get out there and explain directly to the American people what reform is all about, as well as reassure those who wanted reform to be more "liberal," mainly progressives who wanted a public option (as I did), that there's a lot to like in the bill (e.g., extension of coverage to tens of millions of the currently uninsured, no denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions), that reconciliation in the Senate will achieve significant improvements to it, and that this is meaningful, historic change to an unjust, unfair, and costly system, with possibly more change on the way once this is in place.

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