I don’t actually recall having any debate

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40 Responses

  1. North says:

    These results make sense to me considering that we know that the average American voter is a very low information voter. They’re not paying very close attention to the debate or the issues. Accordingly since the country is pretty neatly divided between Democratic Party supporters and Republican Party supporters I’d expect the responses to this question to correlate pretty closely to party affiliation. Let’s face it, when it comes to the actual arguments of the debate the Vaux-populi is probably not paying attention.

    Also this means that victory/defeat of the bill will greatly effect its’ popularity. If healthcare is successfully signed into law a lot of people will suddenly have a better opinion of it due to bandwagoning and a desire to be on the “winning” side. If Obama fails to get it into law then a lot of former supporters will desert it as impure or horrible and hate it in hindsight.Report

  2. Scott says:

    As if many or even any of the people Gallup asked would know anything. I consider myself fairly well informed and don’t know. I’m sure most people think that if the gov’t is going to give them something it must be good.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Scott says:

      Why would you think that. A signifigant portion of the country has internalized the idea that anything the government does is bad.Report

      • Scott in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

        People always like bread and circuses. Don’t you like free stuff and wouldn’t you vote for a party that promises more free stuff.Report

        • greginak in reply to Scott says:

          Perfect example of silly debate. “bread circuses”, so the health care reform will result in free food and violent public exhibitions involving animals and people killing each other??????

          Free??? The health care bill is being paid for, it is not free. You can argue you don’t like the taxes and how our historically low taxation rates are a problem or something or other, but free?, no that’s not happening.

          “wouldn’t you vote for a party that promises more free stuff”= D’s are trying to do things to help people and build up the country and I don’t like that nor do I have any substantive criticisms.Report

          • Scott in reply to greginak says:

            If you have to pay more in taxes then it is not free. If you don’t have to pay more in taxes and you now get services without having to pay for them they are by definition “free”. The gov’t only pays for stuff by taking money from other and redistributing it.Report

  3. Sam M says:

    “Depressingly effective.”


    A full 60 percent of Americans who responded to the poll think the bill will make the health care system better, or it will be a wash, or aren’t quite sure.

    Versus 40 percent of people who seem convinced it will make things worse.

    As a well informed observer, are you so completely convinced of this bill’s wisdom that you think these numbers are all that much out of line? That it’s COMPLETELY unreasonable to be worried about it, even based on its true merits?

    Seriously. Knowing everything you know about the legislation, can you in good conscious say that you are sure it would make things better? I think there all all kinds of reasons to think it might make things worse. Public choice arguments. Budget argument. Unintended consequences arguments. Etc.

    The fact that you think these numbers are depressing…. strikes me as depressing. What kind of numbers would have struck you as not depressing? Ninety percent of people in full suppport of the legislation?

    Hell. I think the fact that 40 percent are so willing to just say, “better” is the bigger problem. And tells a story of Deomcratic demagoguery.


  4. Jaybird says:

    Would it be possible to have the following assumptions:

    There will be unintended consequences.
    The unintended consequences will be similar to the unintended consequences of other large government programs (i.e., “negative”).
    The bill, having been written by lobbyists for special interests, rather than by representatives of The People is more likely to help the special interests rather than The People.

    Personally, I don’t see how “oh, the government will screw this up and things will be worse in the long run because of this” is necessarily something that only a low-information voter would say. It strikes me that it’s something that a high-information voter is likely to say.

    When I see “oh, this will make stuff better”, I wonder what they are basing that on… the idea that they won’t have to pay as much? The idea that we’ll now be like Denmark? The idea that health care in the crappy part of town will no longer be crappier than in the nice part of town?

    From here, I can’t help but wonder if those people who say that the 1900 page-bill will make things better aren’t, at least, equally likely to be low-information.Report

    • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

      There are unintended consequences of everything darn thing that happens. So arguing against something based on the fact there might be unintended consequences is pointless. If we don’t pass this reform or in a very different fashion then it is now, there will be unintended consequences. There will always be something to complain about in the future and something that wasn’t done quite right.

      I have always found the unintended consequence argument odd. It is on one hand and astute observation that we should always keep in the back of our minds and also the laziest way of criticizing something.

      If the 1900 pages of the bill bother you then make the font smaller and increase the margins. Ta Da, the bill will magically be hundreds of pages shorter. Does that make it better?Report

      • Scott in reply to greginak says:

        The point is that people can’t know if the bill will make the system better or worse, so why even have such a silly poll?Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Scott says:

          Looking at the bottom, this seems to *INDEED* be the point of the essay.

          So my reading of this as an essay against the veniality of Republicans for spewing out a blizzard of misinformation thus creating a bunch of low-information people who credulously believe the bill is a bad one was a complete misreading of it.

          I guess.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

        There are, of course, always unintended consequences. Sometimes they are good. Sometimes they are bad. It is possible for unintended consequences to be bad while the intended consequences of the bill are not as good as advertised… now look at what the bill will cost (this is a basement cost, it will only go up if every other program the government has passed is a reliable indicator and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be), what good things the bill promises along with the knowledge that they won’t be *THAT* good, and the bad things that *WILL* happen despite the fact that they aren’t included…

        Is it necessarily indicative of low information that one reaches the conclusion that this will make things worse?

        And that’s without looking at stuff like “track records” and wondering whether it’s likely that the unintended consequences for this bill will be about as bad as the unintended consequences of similarly-large bills (Patriot was less than 350! Change the font and the margins and you’ve got a 200-page bill!!!).

        The number of pages is not to compare to, say, a John Jakes novel but to, say, other bills. Is it notable to point out that the Social Security Act was 64 pages? The Civil Rights Act was 8?

        Once you have that data in your head, does the knowledge that you can make the margins smaller and change the font of a 1900 page bill and turn it into a 1400 page bill with no sweat make you feel particularly better?


        • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

          I don’t think the length of the bill is any particular indicator of how good it is. healthcare by its nature is complicated so if they punched out a 8 or 64 page bill I would think it would likely suck. The length argument just sounds like an irrational, gut level complaint to gin up fear.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            I think that the longer a bill is, the more likely that it is full of obfuscation, hidden giveaways to big players, and other assorted bad things… in the same way that the last “holy cow, this bill was really big!” bills were full of similar.

            You know, like Patriot, any given Farm bill, any given Defense appropriations bill…

            Saying “this one is like the last one” is irrational, to your mind?

            Because, it seems to me, the belief that there must be a pony under all this horseshit is less likely to be based on familiarity with the Federal Government than on, say, religious faith commensurate with that of the Mormons who believe the gold plates went to heaven.Report

            • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

              This is usually true up to a point, and it almost certainly true in this case – but only to a point. As things already stand, health care laws are a complex and giant monstrosity, and even the smallest proposed changes to the system are going to require oodles of statutory revisions because of how interconnected a lot of those laws are. One new section of code could require changes to dozens of other sections of code merely to prevent inconsistencies and contradictions.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                When we get a bill that is over, let’s say… 200, pages that is not full of such things, I will cease to automatically assume that any given proverbial swan is going to be proverbially white.

                I don’t see this particular inductive argument as shaky enough to abandon just yet, however.Report

              • Mark Thompson in reply to Jaybird says:

                I should add that the above goes not just for new legislation in this area, but also for repeal in this area (and probably a number of other areas). It can take long and complex legislation to undo even a small part of legislation in a given area (of any kind of length) where legislation in that area has accumulated over decades.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Oh, indeed. “Sarbanes-Oxley”, of all things, is held up as an example of “deregulation”.Report

              • Art Deco in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Statutes modify the United States Code. IIRC, the code is divided into topical sections. I think you can wipe and replace.Report

              • Nathan in reply to Mark Thompson says:

                Do you not also worry about why it has to be one bill? Why not have a bill related to the interstate sale of health insurance? Then maybe a bill related to tort reform? Another related to perverse tax incentives?

                The only reason we really have bills this size, is because the party in power approaches this issue with the answer of government control (Republicans do the same). It is easier to expand that control, and strongarm advocates of certain concession into voting for a bill ten times the necessary size. If they refuse you can call them baby killers, and racist, and shills for the rich who are against reform based on one amendment or another of that bill.

                Americans in general need a more visceral negative reaction to the statement “Congress passed the 2000 page health care bill today.”Report

          • Art Deco in reply to greginak says:

            Funny, the contract of my insurance plan is 43 pages long.Report

    • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

      I base it on my knowledge that preventative care will be covered with no co-pay, no one will be excluded due to a pre-existing condition and factors like that.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

        If that is your knowledge then I have no doubt that you would be one of the 41%.Report

        • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

          I could be mis-informed but I remember reading that those are in the bill. I was under the impression that the pre-existing condition part was why we are having the mandate. The co-pay thing I am less certain of, if you know one way or the other let me know.

          Personally I would be happy to get those principles enshrined into law. If we have to come back and address the issue later due to other problems with the bill then I am ok with making another legislative pass.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

            You say “co-pay”, I say “fee collected up front whether or not you use the service”.

            So the fee is collected beforehand (indeed, every paycheck).

            At least when you finally go up to the window, you don’t have to bring your wallet with you. You can pretend it’s “free”, if you like.

            I wouldn’t want to pay for oil changes that way, I tell you that much.Report

            • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

              You mean like my premiums. I see your point and I see where you are coming from. I just wanted to make sure that the bill says what I thought it said.
              The problem with the co-pays is that they encourage people to wait or not get preventive care. Which as most of us in the healthcare debate know is NOT guaranteed to lower costs. On the other hand it does improve health. Anything we can do to lower the rate of un-vaccinated people is a huge win for society and the individuals involved.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                If the difference of the co-pay is what keeps more than 1% of the people out there who have to this point avoided vaccinations from getting one, I’d be shocked.

                Not Claude Raines “shocked shocked” either, but shocked.Report

              • ThatPirateGuy in reply to Jaybird says:

                In Nevada the number one reason people don’t vaccinate their children is cost. I learned that while I was at the amazing meeting this july. We had a fund raiser to help correct that problem. I invite you to look into the problem and if you have a few spare dollars you can donate at http://www.nvhealthcenters.org/donations.cfm.Report

              • Scott in reply to ThatPirateGuy says:

                Co-pays can be a good thing. They can stop people from coming in and wasting the doctor’s time. My wife saw it all the time when she worked for a peds practice that took a lot of SCHIP cases. They had folks that wanted to bring their kid/s in almost every week and could cause Uncle Sugar was paying for it. They also had a good looking black male doctor and many single mommies liked to bring their kids into him all the time. The unintended consequence of making the visit free was to have folks abuse it b/c they didn’t have to pay for it. Welcome to the real world.Report

  5. Sam M says:

    “The point is that people can’t know if the bill will make the system better or worse, so why even have such a silly poll?’

    That’s not the point of the post at all, as far as I read it. The post says that the poll shows the effectiveness of Republican demogoguery. And that the results of the poll are depressing.

    That is, the post does not seem to be saying, well, the debate never really happened, so nobody can come to a fair conclusion. It says that Republicans lied, and the fact that 40 percent of people have the temerity to say the that the legislation might make things worse is a terrible development.

    As for Greginak, that’s a fair point. But there are certain elements of this particular legislation that add some oomph to the concerns. For instance, healthcare is obviously a life/death issue. And I don’t see how we can get better health care for all the uninsured, while cutting costs, while not impacting the coverage that people currently have. So… some people are going to be worse off. We don’t know who. So the uninteded consequences in this case are pretty serious.

    Similarly, we are not talking about revamping the market for, say, Amish-built hula-hoops. That would be a small market. So if you screw it up… it doesn’t have big of an impact on the larger economy. health care, on the other hand, is a huge percentage of the national economy. Botch that by even one or two percent and you are talking billions of dollars. Serious money.

    and then there is the issue of governing philosophies. While arguments that the current legislation is tantamount to nazism are ridiculous, this does point us in the direction of more government regulation of an important sector of the economy. Again, I recognize that it is currently heavily regulated anyway. But this do SOMETHING. Jamelle seems to think it amounts to a few modest changes to some esoteric insurange regulations. But Nancy Pelosi doesn’t see it that way. Neither do any of the other players pointing to it as “landmark” legislation on par with Social Security.

    Besides, we all know that part of the strategy is to pass something now, fix it later. We know that “fixing” a government program never involves “ending” it, no matter how dysfuntional. So I think there are some legitimate concerns about how that might play out moving forward. These are not things that would be deal breakers for a lot of observers, but I hardly think it’s out of line to think that 40 percent of people might have these concerns.

    Again, what would have been a non-depressing poll result? Maybe 85 percent of people saying that it will make things better? Why would you expect that kind of result?Report

  6. Scott says:


    So you are saying if everyone were as rational as the Dems are that everyone would welcome the health bill as the right thing to do?Report

  7. Sam M says:

    Related to Scott’s question:

    So let’s assume that not EVERYBODY would think this is good legislation. Because some people can;t be convinced. But let’s go ahead and assume full knowledge. An open and honest debate. Everyone in the whole country even takes two days off to familiarize themselves with as many nuances as you can get in two days. We have several weeks of local debates in town halls and around dinner tables.

    After all that, they redo the poll.

    What do you think the “better” vote becomes?

    Seriously. You seem to think that 40 percent of people guessing that the legislation will make things worse is evidence of some terrible malfeasance. An anti-truth campaign that dazzles the dummies with smoke and mirrors. OK. Fine. Let’s assume that’s right.

    What do you think the percentages would be given perfect knowledge?Report

    • Jamelle in reply to Sam M says:

      Two things: I don’t think there is any *perfect* survey outcome. I’m simply annoyed with this idea that these surveys tell us anything useful.

      Also, it’s worth noting that I don’t think voters are “dummies” for believing Republicans. Most voters are low-information voters and believe information from sources they trust. If voters are receiving conflicting information from a number of sources that they trust, it’s a little unreasonable to expect them to come to any solid opinion. Again, I just think that in the absence of an actual debate, these polls tell us nothing.Report

      • Sam M in reply to Jamelle says:

        Well, you said that the poll shows us two things:

        “Americans are still anxious about health care reform and Republican demagoguery is depressingly effective.”

        How low would the “against” percentage have to be before we could say that we are no longer depressed about the effectiveness of the Rebublican demagoguery?

        That is, the post does not just say, “We don’t have a debate, so the results of the poll are silly.”

        In fact, you say that the debate is not silly. It proves TWO things. One of which is that the Republican misinformation campaign is depressingly effective. Which is proven by the fact that 40 percent of people are against the legislation.

        So there are two ways to answer: What would the against percentage be if the debate we completely open and honest, per your desire?

        And/or, how low would the percentage have to go for you to stop being depressed about the results?Report

  8. Kyle says:

    Isn’t it possible that you’re overstating your case a little bit. I mean, sure the GOP is distorting facts but considering the widely varying number of the uninsured in this country or the it’s not a tax only a penalty levied exactly like a tax it’s not as though Democrats’ collective hands are entirely clean. Admittedly, they’re less bloody.

    More to the point, sure even if we were to find grand agreement between the parties on the number of and plight of the uninsured. There would still be a debate between Democrats demanding to unleash the power of the federal purse government to help people in 2013 right now and Republicans calling this ill-timed generational theft.

    It’s entirely possible that one could agree on the necessity of reform and problems of our current system but fear that this will only make corporate/special interests more powerful, support the severely flawed model of employer-provided coverage we have, and amounts to fiscal imprudence. With that view, in the long run, it would make things worse. However, that view is indistinguishable from, healthcare will be worse because it will involve Marxist death panels.

    If so, the major flaw in the poll – as cited by Jaybird – is not that it exists or imperfectly gives us a picture of where the American people are but that the vagueness of better and worse can only give us an imperfect picture of anxiety and confidence.Report