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Public divided and uninformed on health-care reform

Here's the summary of the latest Kaiser poll:

The March Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds the public still divided on health reform legislation, with 46 percent of Americans backing the reform proposals on Capitol Hill, 42 percent opposing them and 12 percent saying they aren't sure. Six in 10 Americans say they have heard little or nothing about budget reconciliation. And many people continue to struggle with health costs, with nearly one in five saying cost increases have caused them or their employer to switch to a less comprehensive health plan.

The poll finds that Americans are also divided about what should happen next. Forty-two percent say “Congress has debated health care reform long enough and it is time for them to take a vote.” Thirty-six percent would like lawmakers to “go back to the drawing board and start over again on a new proposal.” And 20 percent say Congress should “move on to other topics.”

The public does not understand some important elements of the reform legislation, according to the poll. Only 15 percent of Americans, for instance, know that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the legislation will decrease the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years. And 55 percent believe the CBO has said the legislation will increase the deficit over that period.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 19, 2010; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Comments

And how many of these uninformed -- no, make that MISinformed -- members of the public get their news from Fox News Channel or right-wing talk radio?

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 19, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

"The American people are saying, 'Stop' and they're screaming at the top of their lungs," said House GOP Leader John Boehner of Ohio. at:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100318/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_overhaul

Yeah right, that's why the poll above finds a majority in favor of the reform proposals passing.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | March 19, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Mr Klein if you buy the CBO numbers then I have some land in Florida that I would like to sell you. I told the realtor not to tell you that it was underwater just like Pelosi and Reid told Elmendorf not to count that $70 billion that has to be used for Long term care or that the $52 billion in other savings had to be used for dedicated programs and of course the Doc fix is not include so the $317 billion to fix that is not included. I will bet you your job that the Fortune article that says we will have to increase the national debt by over $430 billion in the first ten years of this monstrosity will be far more accurate than your faulty assessment. Want to bet you job and resign when that is closer to the truth than the Pelosi fairy tale you are supporting

Posted by: reamsflip | March 19, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

Remember, when the CBO makes a projection for how much a program will cost over time, it isn't just spitting out a single number. It's giving a range of numbers. It's typically the midpoint that you hear about, but there's always a chance that the number will be higher or lower, by a certain interval. And, in order to play it safe, CBO decided it would judge health care reform based on the worst possible estimate within that interval.

http://www.tnr.com/blog/the-treatment/what-fiscal-responsibility-looks

Posted by: nisleib | March 19, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Informed Americans understand that the ridiculous fairy tale "decrease" of the budget deficit is based on the smoke and mirrors provided by Obama and his comrades to the CBO.

Obama and his comrades are using deception, gimmicks, creative accounting, smoke and mirrors to hide the trillions of dollars their scam will cost us. What they are giving the CBO to consider is only PART of the scam, while the most expensive parts of the scam are hidden under other bills or passed to the states (which we will still have to pay).

"Legislative Reality vs, Political Reality," by Peter Suderman, identifies specific deceptive strategies. One of the strategies entails shifting expensive parts of a bill to completely DIFFERENT pieces of legislation. So the costs found by the CBO will be only PART of the costs.

In the House, Democrats shifted an expensive, unpaid-for "fix" to doctor's Medicare reimbursement rates over to a separate bill. And in the Senate, they backloaded the spending so that its full effects would not be felt in the 10-year window that CBO scores. In the latest Senate bill, 99 percent of the spending would occur in the last six years of the budget window.
http://reason.com/archives/2009/12/10/legislative-reality-vs-politic

Obamacare will dramatically increase taxes, costs and the deficit while rationing and destroying health care, destroying businesses and jobs, and destroying our economy and our freedoms.

As the Obama campaign was funded largely by U.S. enemies like George Soros, it seems Obama and his comrades are trying to repay them by destroying our country!

Posted by: AntonioSosa | March 19, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

AntonioSosa - Take your meds and adjust your tinfoil hat.

Posted by: nisleib | March 19, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

"Only 15 percent of Americans, for instance, know that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the legislation will decrease the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years."

The other 85% know that, according to the most expert economists, the numbers presented to the CBO were cooked. That is, the system was gamed again and again to provide the CBO with the number necessary for them to sign off on this "deficit reducing" claim.

It's not that the people are ignorant of the numbers, they are understandably skeptical of the numbers ... and the law making process that created them.

Posted by: Mary42 | March 19, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

"Public ... uninformed ..."

In other news, the sun came up this morning.

Posted by: ostap666 | March 19, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Mary - "The other 85% know that, according to the most expert economists, the numbers presented to the CBO were cooked"

Reallllly? Put up or shut up, provide a link showing that you aren't just quoting some rightwing know-nothing.

Posted by: nisleib | March 19, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Actually Mary42, I'm not at all surprised if Republicans or those who oppose reform say that the CBO is wrong, or that their estimates are based on lies, or accounting games, or whatever. What I find shocking is that so many of them either don't know that the CBO has said the bill will reduce the deficit, or think the CBO has said that the bill will increase the deficit. So, according to this poll, um, yes, these people ARE ignorant of the numbers. Pretty sad.

Posted by: willow8300 | March 19, 2010 3:49 PM | Report abuse

CBO estimates that don't conform to my preconceptions are a Communist plot.

Posted by: TomServo | March 19, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post lead frontpage headline:
"House leaders announce $940 billion health-care compromise bill"

Information on projected deficit reduction: paragraph 12.

Is there any wonder why only 15% know what the CBO says?

Posted by: srb4 | March 19, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse

are Fox's ratings at 85% of the market? I know libs like to jest but they can't believe that they've cornered the market on mind control have they???

Maybe its just possible that regular people that don't listen to Ezra that don't watch Maddow or Beck just can't seem to see how you cover 31 million more people just with insurance company profits and squeezing inefficiency out of the system.

Personally i think they're flat out wrong. but when liberals ADMIT that this will cost more (Lawrence O'Donnell) then I take my blinders off.


And again its easy to cut the deficit if your projects that are the baseline are WAY OFF to begin with.

Take it this way baseball fans. Its like the Yankees spent less money this year on payroll than last. Its still a ridiculously high amount and more than they need and WAY MORE than anyone else in the world/baseball but hey, they reduced their payroll!

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 19, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

1) I'm delighted to know that there is Tom Servo posting on here.

2) My heart sinks every time I'm reminded how terribly uninformed people are. I mean, forget what you think of the bill...60% of American's haven't heard about budget reconciliation yet?

Yikes. Get me one of those tin foil hats - and a fallout shelter.

Posted by: ClaytonForrester | March 19, 2010 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Note that Kaiser Family Foundation is a lobby group which supports the legislation: to preserve its tax status, is required to fulfill its stated mission and promote the legislation, without regard to fact. The Foundation is likely to benefit financially from passage of the pending health care tax bill. The tax returns for KFF are available for inspection at http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/043/494/2008-043494488-04fabe2d-F.pdf

Having said that, yes, the public is not well informed of the payoffs connected with the current health care tax proposal.

Posted by: rmgregory | March 19, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

About half the American public supported the Iraq War because of Saddam Hussein's role in 9/11. This is why we have a democratic republic, not direct democracy.

Posted by: dollarwatcher | March 19, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Is it me or are even the trolls starting to assume this will pass? This media push is really working.

And as much as I don't like ranting troll posts, the guy who came up with the phrase "Obama and his comrades" made the world a funnier place.

Posted by: BHeffernan1 | March 19, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

By the way, on page 27 of the KFF 2008 tax return, one will note that its CEO worked 38 hours per week (a part-time job) and received compensation of $599,148 plus benefits of $66,624 plus expenses of $139,705 for a total annual compensation of $805,477. Again, that's $805,477 a year for a part-time job at a "non-profit" corporation! This is more than is allowed by the Obama Compensation Czar for the CEO of a Foutune 100 for-profit company!

Read more at http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2008/946/064/2008-946064808-057a3ef8-F.pdf

Posted by: rmgregory | March 19, 2010 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm with nisleib. We've seen a lot of comments on this topic lately from conservatives who believe the CBO score is cooked and the bill will explode the deficit. So lets see that projection so that we can compare its methodology to the CBOs.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 19, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

nisleib and etdean1,

Its amazing what you can forget when you want to.


The Hill: House Health Bill will hike costs $289B.

http://thehill.com/images/stories/news/2009/november/weekend111309/cmsactuarynumbers.pdf


Now because I'm fair I will say that this was the report was on the OLD house bill but thankfully Republicans in all their newfound fiscal sanity have requested another CMS report on the finalized reconciliation bill.

I can't wait to see what it says with the whole watered down excise tax and all.


http://www.politico.com/livepulse/0310/House_and_Senate_Repubs_ask_for_CMS_analysis.html?showall


Again I'm fine with doing it and all, but be honest about it. that's all i'm saying.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 19, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

"Reallllly? Put up or shut up, provide a link showing that you aren't just quoting some rightwing know-nothing."

Calm ... yourself.
(Not sure if you take a prescription drug to keep yourself under control or not, but something isn't working. Please: go for a reevaluation if you feel the need to lash out at people who disagree with bogus statistics -- nothing personal.)

"A preliminary cost estimate of the final legislation, released by the Congressional Budget Office on Thursday, showed that the president got almost exactly what he wanted: a $940 billion price tag for the new insurance coverage provisions in the bill, and the reduction of future federal deficits of $138 billion over 10 years.

So how did the numbers come out just right? Not by accident.

Congressional Democrats have spent more than a year working with the nonpartisan budget office on the health care legislation, and as they fine-tuned many of the bill’s various provisions in recent weeks, they consulted repeatedly with its number-crunchers and the bipartisan staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation.

In other words, the overall numbers were never going to miss the mark. Whenever the budget office judged that some element or elements of the bill would cause a problem meeting the cost and deficit-reduction targets, Democrats just adjusted the underlying legislation to make sure it would hit their goal."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/19/us/19score.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

Posted by: Mary42 | March 19, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm holding my nose but sort of for it, but I think it is going to be a huge disaster and a disappointment to all sides. The wingnuts will deflate like balloons when the world doesn't collapse on passage, and the "liberals" will be disappointed with what it really costs and who is really running and profiting from it. Wellpoint stock is going up, btw. Firedoglake will have been right but like Cassandra, people on both sides will have spent themselves in figurative lynch mobs and mean spirited personal attacks on a cancer survivor-activist. The DLC wing will have sold the milk cow for beans that don't do anything, again, telegraphing in advance to all and sundry that a rube is on the way with marks for friends, and to wake up the shills and cutpurses.

Posted by: sparkplug1 | March 19, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

The Post and other media outlets have certainly done their part to make sure people have no idea what reform involves.

Posted by: thebuckguy | March 19, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

(I hear Ezra'a weekend recipe is going to be a basic one: How to Cook the Books -- only takes a year on simmer, and wah-lah! the Feast is On. We'll worry about how to pay for it ... tomorrow. Heck, stick our kids with the bill even.)

Posted by: Mary42 | March 19, 2010 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Will you tone down your elitist attitude and stop calling those who oppose the bill stupid. (actually, you use the more polite phrase of mis-informed, but its the same thing). I am so tired of this BS line. You folks inside the beltway don't hold all the wisdom.

Posted by: NJames1 | March 19, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

vision - I was responding to the following comment:

"The other 85% know that, according to the most expert economists, the numbers presented to the CBO were cooked"

While I appreciate there are differences between the CBO and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services estimates, none of that addresses the outlandish claims regarding what "the other 85% know" nor does it have anything to do with what "the most expert economists" think about the numbers.

Posted by: nisleib | March 19, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

Mary42, if a completely baseless conspiracy theory is all you've got, then you should really quiet down. The good score came in because the bill was designed to hit certain fiscal marks, not vice versa.

visionbrkr, agreed. I'm optimistic, given that the CBO is generally conservative on their numbers (in the actual, not political, way). And hey, regardless of what THIS bill does, we'll still need more cost control in the future, it's just a question of whether this will be the first step down that road.

NJames, opponants of the bill aren't being called stupid. They are frequently misinformed, but that's as much the fault of the elites not doing their jobs.

Posted by: etdean1 | March 19, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Mary - So your statment that "The other 85% know that, according to the most expert economists, the numbers presented to the CBO were cooked" was just more rightwing blather.

You can't back it up. Your link to the NY Times does not backup your rightwing talking point in the least. In fact, Mary, I strongly recommend you read the NY Times article you provide the link too, it actually disproves your nonsense.

Posted by: nisleib | March 19, 2010 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Peopler are MORE likely (by 7%) to support the bill when told that trhe Republicanms are united against it. They are even MORE likely (15%) to suppport it when told Obama is supporting it. See here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2010/3/19/847866/-Poll:-GOP-opposition-makes-people-more-likely-to-support-health-care-reform

It is over and soon will be done with. A large defeat for the GOP. We'll see just how quick they are to run on repeal.

Posted by: Mimikatz | March 19, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

mimi,

well a progressive poll. that's just a bit biased no? I'm sure I could find a fox poll if i wanted to that showed that 99% of people thought it was a communist plot.

nisleib and etdean1,

I believe (and correct me if i'm wrong) that CBO scores only gov't expenditures while CMS includes all expenditures? If I'm wrong I'll gladly admit it but that's what I thought I heard. That to me means that the employer market will now further subsidize this. Again I can deal with that if we're all honest about it.

And the progressives on here are just as nasty to those who are not 100% for it as those that are 100% supportive of it. It goes both ways. I've been called an idiot, a shill and worse on here for doing nothing more than calling for MORE cost controls.

Does anyone condone what progressives have done to Stupak? Calling his house and harassing his wife at 3 in the morning? At what cost do they need to go to for passage?

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 19, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Mary42: "The other 85% know that, according to the most expert economists, the numbers presented to the CBO were cooked."

I'd bet that 85% don't even know what the CBO is, much less what numbers were presented to it. But since I haven't done actual polling, I can't be absolutely sure I'd win that bet.

Amazing what people are willing to assert with certainty in the absence of any evidence.

Posted by: dasimon | March 19, 2010 6:18 PM | Report abuse

And I suppose that the Misinformed of America are only to be found among the ranks of those who are opposed to Obamacare, while all those in favor are, naturellement, totally au courant with absolutely everything.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 19, 2010 9:43 PM | Report abuse

bgmma50: No, not all on either side are completely informed or misinformed. Informed people can oppose health care reform. But though I'm suspicious of those who use talking points such as "government takeover," I wouldn't make concrete assertions without some more evidence.

Posted by: dasimon | March 20, 2010 12:00 AM | Report abuse

Well, if the public doesn't "know" that CBO scored the proposed legislation to show a deficit reduction, perhaps:

1. The plethora of rapidly changing versions played a role in this "ignorance";

2. The fact that the version to be considered in the House on Sunday (with modifications) was only scored in the last couple of days played a role;

3. The complexity of the scoring report played a role -- for instance, without the "doc fix" which Congress has never agreed to in the past, the legislation would add to the deficit, rather that reduce it, according to CBO; and/or

4. The notorious unreliability of historical projections about the costs of major government health legislation in distant out-years -- though no one questions the integrity and transparency of CBO's work, the track record in similar cases suggests strongly that it would be reasonable to doubt the accuracy of any projection at this stage.

Posted by: rboltuck | March 20, 2010 10:03 AM | Report abuse

"And many people continue to struggle with health costs, with nearly one in five saying cost increases have caused them or their employer to switch to a less comprehensive health plan. "

Too bad the current bill does nothing about this, except taking money from some people to help some other people get overpriced care.

Posted by: staticvars | March 20, 2010 11:09 AM | Report abuse

rboltuck: "The plethora of rapidly changing versions played a role in this 'ignorance'"

But I believe every version scored by the CBO showed a deficit reduction, so the complication of various versions would not have affected poll results even if those polled were confusing those versions.

"for instance, without the 'doc fix' which Congress has never agreed to in the past, the legislation would add to the deficit, rather that reduce it, according to CBO"

The "doc fix" is something that is going to be dealt with whether or not the health care reform bill passes, so I don't think it's improper to consider it separately. There are lots of other possibilities for additional spending in all sorts of areas (we could start building B-2 bombers again), but I wouldn't advocate that they be considered for the purposes of evaluating a particular bill.

"the track record in similar cases suggests strongly that it would be reasonable to doubt the accuracy of any projection at this stage."

True. But the projection could err either way. And the possibility of error still wouldn't affect the fact that the CBO scored it as reducing the deficit. Rightly or wrongly, they scored it the way they scored it, and people know about it or they don't.

Posted by: dasimon | March 20, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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