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Post-reform polls show little movement

By Ben Pershing
Much has changed in Washington over the last two weeks, as Congress passed a sweeping health-reform bill and Barack Obama's presidency became known by both friend and foe as a historically consequential one. But according to a host of new surveys, one thing hasn't changed all that much -- public opinion.

USA Today reports that the paper's new poll with Gallup "shows an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats to convince most Americans that the health care overhaul passed last week will help them and their families. In the poll, 50% call passage of the bill'"a bad thing' and 47% say it was 'a good thing.' That's at odds with the findings of a one-day USA TODAY Poll taken a week ago -- a day after the U.S. House approved the legislation -- in which a 49%-40% plurality called the bill 'a good thing.'" Gallup adds that "[o]ne week after the passage of historic new healthcare legislation, Americans remain worried about the bill's effect on costs -- both for the nation as a whole and for them personally. A majority of Americans say healthcare costs in the U.S. and the federal budget deficit will get worse as a result of the bill. Half of Americans believe that healthcare costs for themselves and their families will get worse."

As for Obama himself, CNN writes: "Passage of the landmark health care bill appears to have boosted President Barack Obama's approval rating, but it has not affected his re-election chances so far, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Monday indicates that 51 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing in the White House, with 48 percent saying they disapprove. That 51 percent approval rating is up five points from a week ago, before Congress approved the health care reform bill and the president signed the legislation into law. Four in ten respondents say they disapprove because Obama is too liberal and 6 percent say they the president is not liberal enough." Before the Gallup and CNN surveys were released, Chris Good wrote that "three major polls have been released, and mostly tell a favorable story for President Obama. They do not show health care suddenly supported by a wide margin--in fact, they show it's still unpopular--but, while the picture is a bit murky, they do offer a few encouraging signs for Obama and his party."

Politico agrees that "Democrats who held out hopes that President Barack Obama's health reform win would mean a quick boost to the party's political fortunes are getting a reality check - a reminder that it takes more than one good week to shake up a year of sliding polls. Obama and his health reform plan did get a bump in several surveys immediately after the House vote eight days ago - but the numbers in some of those polls flattened out, showing how difficult it will be for Obama to capitalize on reform, even after his top legislative goal cleared Congress." Nate Silver bears down on a specific state: "[I]t would stand to reason that Obama's 2012 strategy may not be able to bank on the Sunshine State. Seniors don't like the health care plan and vote in great numbers in Florida. And there are also a lot of Jewish voters in Florida who might not be pleased with Obama's somewhat hawkish stance toward Israeli settlements. This isn't rocket science. Yes, completely different issues may be on the table by the time that '12 rolls around. ... And it's a little early to be worrying too much about the electoral math. But considering how tenuous Obama's hold over Florida was in the first place -- it wasn't really a swing state in 2008 so much as a come-along-for-the-ride state -- just a point or two that pushes it further to the right of the country as a whole could deprive it of the critical role it has played in past election cycles. Obama could perfectly easily still win it -- but it seems doubtful that he'd win it before an Ohio or a Colorado or some other combination of states that has him well past the 270 mark."

The Wall Street Journal senses a new tone from the White House: "President Barack Obama, after a year of fitfully searching for compromise, is taking a more aggressive tack with his Republican adversaries, hoping to energize Democratic voters and possibly muscle in some Republican support in Congress. On Thursday, the president challenged Republicans who planned to campaign on repealing his health-care bill with, 'Go for it.' Two days later, he made 15 senior appointments without Senate consent, including a union lawyer whose nomination had been blocked by a filibuster. At a bill-signing event Tuesday, he is set to laud passage of higher-education legislation that was approved despite Republican objections through a parliamentary maneuver that neutralized the party's filibuster threat. On Thursday, Mr. Obama will be in Maine, home state of two moderate Republican senators who opposed his health-care plan, to promote the health law." On the brighter side, the Associated Press examines "Obama's sense of humor: mordant, self-deprecating, deeply ironic. Does Barack Obama have a funny bone? The president certainly doesn't seem to see himself as a natural comic. But more often than he gets credit for, he flashes a sharp and wry humor. It's an important component of his style, helping to humanize an otherwise detached persona in ways that could prove valuable in the political wars ahead."

The New York Times reports: "An association representing 300 large corporations urged President Obama and Congress on Monday to repeal a provision of the health care overhaul that prompted AT&T, Caterpillar and other companies to announce substantial charges for the current quarter. The association, the American Benefits Council, said the provision -- which reduces the tax deductions for companies with drug coverage for their retired employees -- would deal a significant blow to corporate profits and would discourage companies from hiring more workers." Henry Waxman has already called on those companies to explain why they're taking those charges now, and CongressDaily writes: "House Minority Leader Boehner today accused Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman of using intimidation-like tactics in demanding congressional testimony from employers to back their claims the new healthcare law will be costly and undercut job creation." AP reveals that "[u]nder the health care overhaul, young adults who buy their own insurance will carry a heavier burden of the medical costs of older Americans -- a shift expected to raise insurance premiums for young people when the plan takes full effect. Beginning in 2014, most Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. That's when premiums for young adults seeking coverage on the individual market would likely climb by 17 percent on average."

Will Republicans keep calling for repeal? Sarah Palin certainly is, Mark Halperin writes: "In Washington, many Republican leaders are now waffling and wavering over their previous aggressively negative stance on the health care bill, seeing peril in opposing the measure's more popular provisions. They are searching for a more nuanced and modulated message that will allow them to avoid the damning Party of No label, while still making their principles clear. But Sarah Palin doesn't really do nuance or modulation. Defiance is more her style, and this past weekend she used her folksy brand of full-throated opposition to dominate American politics yet again with appearances in Arizona and Nevada. ... With a trio of short, spunky speeches, she leaped back to the top of the broadcast networks' evening newscasts and a dominant position on cable TV, simply by stating her unvarnished opposition to Obamacare and deriding Democrats, Washington élites and the press." Palin says she is backing three Iraq War veterans in their House campaigns. The Atlantic notes that it's been "a tricky month" for Mitt Romney, linking to the Huffington Post video "Ob'omneycare," a tribute to Romney's "attempt to bend, twist and wiggle his way through a contradictory political position."

Scott Brown takes to the op-ed page to declare that "the health care fight is not over" and explain that he is "working on legislation that would allow states to opt out of this federal health care bill because states need flexibility, not a federal government takeover of health care." Peter Beinart sees Obama becoming a "liberal Reagan," explaining: "With the passage of health care, Obama has now had his air-traffic controllers' moment. When Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, it convinced many political observers that the old rules still applied. The country was still basically suspicious of big government, and thus, the only way for a Democratic president to survive was to do what Bill Clinton did after 1994: content himself with incremental change, accept the political parameters that Reagan established, be a Democratic Eisenhower. When Obama decided to push for comprehensive reform anyway, he signaled that he would not play that role. And when he and the Democrats won, they blew up the old political order. In Washington, for the first time in his presidency, Obama is feared." John Harwood warns: "In politics, as in sports, the thrill of victory sometimes pales alongside the agony of defeat. In 2010, Democrats remain on track to experience both. Achievement of their decades-long quest for comprehensive health care legislation left Congressional leaders and White House aides jubilant. It broke, at least temporarily, the psychology of failure that threatened President Obama's administration as it had burdened President George W. Bush's tenure. But the new spring in the steps of Democratic lawmakers has not reversed the likelihood that there will be fewer of them next year."

After all the focus on health-care, Obama will shift attention Tuesday to the other piece of the reconciliation bill. AP writes: "President Barack Obama prepared Tuesday to sign the piece of his sweeping health care overhaul that makes the government the primary lender to students and strips banks of that power. Obama's hard-fought legislative victory packaged two of his domestic priorities. Obama already signed the bulk of the health care legislation, but a final set of tweaks provided a route for the education package, the largest rewrite of federal college assistance programs in four decades." On a similar front, the Wall Street Journal reports that "the Obama administration delivered a jolt to U.S. public education Monday by selecting just two states, Delaware and Tennessee, to receive $600 million in hard-fought grants designed to help districts overhaul their programs. The awards are part of the administration's $4.35 billion Race to the Top competition, which has sparked a nationwide scramble among states to prove which of them is championing the most robust changes. Forty states and the District of Columbia applied for the grants." The Washington Post says Arne Duncan "acknowledged that the small winner's circle was designed as an incentive for other states to continue revamping their education policies. It also deflects suggestions that the administration would seek to spread the money around as quickly and widely as possible to help Obama win favor in key political states."

Somehow March almost ended without a new controversy involving Michael Steele. Politico reports: "A Republican National Committee staffer who accompanied a group of young donors to a bondage-themed West Hollywood club and then expensed the nearly $2,000 tab has been fired by the committee, POLITICO has learned. RNC Chief of Staff Ken McKay announced the firing in an internal committee email obtained by POLITICO. 'This was not an RNC sanctioned event and was not associated in any way with any RNC official event,' McKay wrote of the February outing to Voyeur, a West Hollywood club modeled after the risqué Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman movie 'Eyes Wide Shut.' The late-night excursion followed an official RNC event in Los Angeles for donors in its 'Young Eagles' program, McKay wrote, stressing that neither Chairman Michael Steele nor any senior staff were aware of either the outing or the committee's reimbursement of the cost. ... McKay also wrote that the donor who was reimbursed for footing the bill at Voyeur, Erik Brown, "has verbally agreed to repay the funds to the RNC."

The Washington Post says "the RNC's expenses ... set off another round of GOP infighting over Steele, whose combative style and frequent pratfalls have earned him friends and enemies. The chairman angered many party insiders by releasing a book this year without notifying Republican leaders; he stumbled into another controversy this month after the leak of an RNC fundraising document featuring crude caricatures of President Obama and other Democratic leaders. Steele also has come under fire for his management of the organization's finances. The RNC had more than $22 million on hand when he arrived last year, but is down to less than $10 million, despite raising a record $96 million during that time, records show." The Fix cautions, "For all those wondering whether this story will be the one that forces Steele out at the RNC, remember that two-thirds of the committee men and women would have to vote him out and there is no one -- not even Steele's most bitter enemies -- who think that is a possibility. Simply put: Unless Steele resigns (not likely) or some other major revelation that links him directly to this night club incident comes out, he will be the chairman through 2010."

By Ben Pershing  |  March 30, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Health Care , The Rundown  
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The MSM is stuck on this horse race mentality. This shouldn't be a shocker to the news media but the discussion is over, the bills have been passed, and they have been signed into law. Are we really going to have to put up with this endless revisiting of the HCR issue until your contributors have swayed the public in the direction that you'd like?

Let the Repubs run on a platform of repeal. Let's shine a light on all the good things that are in the bill and watch as the public turns on the doomsayers.

Posted by: theobserver4 | March 30, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Gees, Ben get a grip. Most of it hasn't gone into effect and you hounds are at the door. No wonder folks are turning away from news, it's all about instant polls.

Posted by: crrobin | March 30, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse




Posted by: theoldmansays | March 30, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

No one wants this government intrusion in our lives. This is a horrific expensive massive invasive takeover that no one wants. In my little sphere, I have never even met someone who is happy with this bill. In fact, I have seen an anger in people I have never seen in my entire life. I think you will see a backlash for the Democrats they have no idea is coming. The anger is silent and steaming.
And I agree with the anger. I resent these phony hypocritical politicians telling us what we will have when they will keep their fine health care insurance. I resent the fraudulent numbers they dished out to support this bill when we all know they were fake.
I resent their forcing us to buy a commodity and placing limits and fines on what we choose. I resent their wanting to put my person medical information on a National Registry for any bureaucratic moron to view at their whim and wish. I resent this 6000 medical army that Obama may call up that will be trained with military training and allowed to carry arms. How scary is that? I resent the feds being able to reach in people's financial accounts. I think what they are doing to medicare is a sin. I think pushing all those illegals onto medicaid for the you and I to pick up the tab at the state level is insanity. I think this bill is garbage to put it bluntly and I will vote for anyone who promises me in all good conscience to repeal this c...

Posted by: greatgran1 | March 30, 2010 11:15 AM | Report abuse


Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government's role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | March 30, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse


Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the health care overhaul signed into law last week costs too much and expands the government's role in health care too far, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, underscoring an uphill selling job ahead for President Obama and congressional Democrats.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | March 30, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

One distinction that most polls on health care reform fail to investigate and/or report is the percentage of individuals who voice opposition because they believethat the law does not go far enough in establishing universal health care and/or a single payor system or a public option. One poll that I did find indicated that 13% of the respondents opposed the bill due to these pereceived shortcomings. Conservative opponents would have you believe that the polls indicate that +50% of the public is opposed due to concerns about federal maqndates, government control etc. which I think is very misleading.. Public opinion polls on this issue should be structured and analyzed to uncover the basis for the opposition.

Posted by: richfblair | March 30, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

People are looking for candidates who will deman Obama's hidden history open.
It is expected to void all of his signatures.

In the mean time Obama signed the Great Prepper's Vacation 2010. Enmasse people are unwilling to work and earn a dime to tax to support this Fed.
AS WE WATCH CONGRESS TAKE MAJOR BUSINESSES TO TASK becomes clear what a small business is going to face in legal fees in dealing with this veirmacht.
Rather than attempting to comply with laws that are unconstitutional, people are saving themselves from these assaults by investigators that can target you for race or bias and force you down and out trying to defend yourself.
Don't cannot run.

VACATION and SABBATICAL with closed doors, appears to be easier than funding something no one wants.

Posted by: dottydo | March 30, 2010 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I'm not a socialist, therefore, I'm not interested in Obama's health care plan. I pay for my own health care and that of my family and I'm not interested in paying for a lazy, so what they want, individual who are stealing from those truly in need.

Posted by: 45upnorth | March 30, 2010 10:37 AM | Report abuse

jaxas70, just curious, you a woman? kids of your own? Have you had an abortion? Have you had to deal with someone close to you that had an unplanned pregnancy? And if that person chose to have the child, are they a pro life idiot or perhap a compassionate mother? You seem to be up on this issue, so please advise.

Posted by: mmourges | March 30, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Or this that anyone of us individually and all of us collectively? Oh well, back to grammar class.

Posted by: shhhhh | March 30, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama and Pelosi will have to now tell the American public to "Bring it on, stupid!"
Posted by: JoeTH
Truth hurts? Or is it that one is smarter for being used by insurance lobbyists, who according to the Supremes probably have more of a voice than any one of us collectively?

Posted by: shhhhh | March 30, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Them that i know who are nay on health care, are in fact the working poor.

Then do not want to be forced to buy insurence, when as one told me (i go to the emergency room and never pay them)
on the other hand my last visit to an emergency room cost me $250.00 after both of my insurence paid their share.
So you see i pay for the uninsured one way or another.

Posted by: dv1236 | March 30, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Charlietuna666, do you have to work hard at being an a##hole or does it just come naturally to you. You just called the President of the United States a babykiller implying that his health care bill has federal funds in it for abortion. It doesn't.

But here is the hard truth. People like you and the rest of the pro-life idiots have zero interest in the life or welfare of babies. It is just a convenient emotional button pusher to rile up all of the redneck, rural fundamentalist dumbos out there to come out and vote for the local right wing Limbaugh anal sucking politician.

Posted by: jaxas70 | March 30, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised that so many of you seem obsessed with these polls. Thank God the President at least is refusing to be cowed by polls. If there is one thing I have learned about public opinion, it is almost always wrong. After Obama won the election and upon his inauguration, the polls overwhelmingly approved of him thinking that he was the answer to their prayers. They were wrong of course because one man cannot bring about change on his own.

And the public was wrong when the cheered like schoolgirls when Bush took us into a misguided war in Iraq. They were wrong in 2006 when he inaugurated his surge strategy which was belatedly the one thing he did right in his handling of the Iraq war. They were dead wrong for falling for the Swiftboating John Kerry and re-electing George W. Bush in 2004.

And it is highly likely that at least half of them are wrong on this question of the impact of the health care bill. The President is right to stick to his guns and ignore public opinion. That is called leadership. If our Founding Fathers had paid heed to public opinion, we would still be loyal citizens of the Crown.

Posted by: jaxas70 | March 30, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

And what do we hear from this administration and Congress about the "UNEMPLOYMENT" situation?
Several friends of mine are still waiting, while sending out resume's...and getting near the end of their unemployment benefits. Extend unemployment benefits?
How does this add to the income the government expects to receive from taxpayers?
Oh, I forgot...we're going to ask China to invest in the wonderful investment opportunities that are available here?

Posted by: SeniorVet | March 30, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse



Bodies of 21 babies have been discovered in plastic bags in a river in eastern China and authorites suspect they were dumped there by local hospitals, state media reported Tuesday.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | March 30, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse



Bodies of 21 babies have been discovered in plastic bags in a river in eastern China and authorites suspect they were dumped there by local hospitals, state media reported Tuesday.

Posted by: charlietuna666 | March 30, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

Not only must Obama and Pelosi be frustrated by the lack of positive movement in the polls, so must the Post and everyone in the main stream media, who have tried their hardest to sell this reform to the public. Now the default is on, in high gear: make those who disagree enemies of the state. Make them out to be racists and loons. Intimidate at every chance. The way this administration and congress, along with their shills in the media, are acting is frightening.

Posted by: jpfann | March 30, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Just wait and see what happens to public opinion when they find out all the backroom deals that took place to get this bill passed. The Democrats passing legislation this massive, and unpopular, will be the political gift that keeps on giving for the Republicans.

Posted by: MikeJ9116 | March 30, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Like the Clinton campaign said, "it's the economy stupid!" Passing the health care legislation was a landmark, it is done now, the end of the world did not come and it is now only relevant as to how it effects the economy. There are good signs out there, consumer spending is up, traffic on the freewys is up, freight shipments are up now, if unemployment is down when the report comes out on Friday, people will start to see progress is being made.
There is success in Afghanistan and in August when the troops arrive home from Iraq to parades and celebration to thank them for a job well done, people will see that the sacrifices we have all endured as a nation were for something.
The huge drain on the budget that has been the Iraq war will end and as the employment situation improves, debt will go down.
I think the important thing will be to keep the focus on the economy and I think once people see that we have weathered the worst of the storm (Citibank shares sold, GM paying back its loans, etc.) that optimism will return to the nation and like they say, the better it gets, the better it gets!

Posted by: Prosperity2008 | March 30, 2010 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama and Pelosi will have to now tell the American public to "Bring it on, stupid!"

Posted by: JoeTH | March 30, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

Looks like Obama and Pelosi will have to now tell the American public to "Bring it on, stupid!"

Posted by: JoeTH | March 30, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

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