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The health-care bill is getting more popular

That graph is from Pollster.com. It gets even tighter if you eliminate the conservative-leaning Rasmussen poll, whose founder wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed yesterday explaining that the president can't make health-care reform popular because voters believe all sorts of untrue things about it.

I should also note that this evidence flies in the face of one of my core beliefs about health-care reform: That the Democrats would be in better shape, and the bill more popular, if Congress had stuck to the original timetable and passed the thing before the August recess. As you can see, the bill is about as popular now as it was then. Maybe even more so. This is, however, one of those times when I'm going to say that I'm right even though the evidence says I'm wrong: If Democrats could've gotten this legislation off the agenda and moved to bragging about their accomplishment and focusing on jobs, they'd be in a much stronger position today. But you should know that the numbers don't necessarily back up my belief on this.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 11, 2010; 10:51 AM ET
Categories:  Polls  
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Next: New CBO analysis says the Senate bill reduces the deficit. Still.

Comments

Well, the numbers don't not support your belief either. The numbers are irrelevant to your belief. The popularity of the bill as measured today has nothing at all to do with the popularity it would have had in an alternate universe where approval happened last August, followed perhaps by action on jobs, and even climate change (since they wouldn't be all tuckered out in that world). A record of accomplishment, instead of floundering, would reflect well on Democrats, which might well cause a warm glow to appear around all their accomplishments. You can't say. You also can't say that the measurement today is what it would be even had the history been very different.

Posted by: pj_camp | March 11, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

When polls trend negatively toward health reform, Ezra Klein says it shows that people really don't understand the legislation.

When polls trend more positively, Ezra Klein cites the polls to show momentum.

Hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, much?

It just amazes me that the Post continues to employ someone who is not an analyst or an honest broker of ideas, but rather simply a partisan hack cheerleading incessantly for this health care bill.

Posted by: FreeMas | March 11, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Ezra, you're a few days behind on this one, pollster and Jon Chait had this story yesterday, with the same headline, and same look at taking Ras polling data out.
http://www.pollster.com/blogs/health_reform_opposition_falli.php

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | March 11, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I'd say you're right when you say "If Democrats could've gotten this legislation off the agenda and moved to bragging about their accomplishment and focusing on jobs, THEY'D be in a much stronger position today." However, as Joe Califano indicated in a recent Charlie Rose telecast, it takes more than "they" to make the bill actually work: what the polls are showing is that the necessary "we" is developing, albeit slowly.

Califano (and Rumsfeld, for an odd comparison) is of a breed that recognizes both power and comity. When I mention the favorable speed of the Senate compared to the House, rather than making a partisan point, I'm attempting to suggest that attempts at near-unanimity produce more stable, workable results for a larger population in a shorter time (a shorter time which admittedly is perceived to be protracted).

Please don't tell anyone that I said something in support of Joe Califano. By the way, the referenced Charlie Rose telecast is one which will be remembered for decades.

Posted by: rmgregory | March 11, 2010 11:29 AM | Report abuse

It's telling that Ezra only links to this aggregation of poll data when he finds something he can cite it approvingly.

Posted by: tbass1 | March 11, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

"Would've, should've, could've" isn't helpful right now.

Now it is all about getting this thing done.

Posted by: maritza1 | March 11, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

FreeMas, the propositions "this bill is not more popular that it appears to be because people don't understand what's really in it" and "this bill is becoming more popular" can be true at the same time.

People could be responding more positively to polling on HCR for any number of reasons. Maybe they're learning more about what's in the bill and like what they see. Maybe they just like that it seems like this debate will finally be over.

Anyway, there's nothing dishonest about Ezra arguing that people believe many untrue things about the bill, and that when they're presented with reality they like the bill better, and pointing out that the polls are moving in HCR's direction. I'd bet that a significant number of people *still* believe untrue things about the bill. Hell, my fiancee's parents still basically believe there are death panels in there...

Posted by: MosBen | March 11, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

I think the healthcare bill would be more popular if they would just promise everyone a fancy icecream sunday on weekdays and free Latte's on Sundays and Saturdays. I know the polls don't agree but they just aren't quite as smart as I am.

Posted by: jercary | March 11, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

For those of us who care little about inside baseball and not at all about what happens to Dems, Reps, & individual politicians, passing HRC last summer & moving on to more economic stimulus, cap & trade, financial reform, & immigration reform would have benefited Obamaniacs greatly, because it would demonstrated they were tending to business. Their failure to do so will cost them in Nov, & if they fail to pass HRC at all, I'll pull a straight Rep lever, no matter how much I support HRC & the rest. The Reps won't do anything, god knows, but maybe if throw out this bunch of Dems we'll get better ones down the road. Or to put it another way, if things aren't bad enough yet for Congress to do something, let's have the Reps make them bad enough.

Posted by: davidpancost | March 11, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Don't worry Ezra. People have given up trying to correlate any of your asserted beliefs with actual real world evidence.

Just go ahead. The Kool-Aid seems to taste especially good this morning.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

when this bill gets passed, the democratic base will be celebratory, that through this stagnant, polarized and corrupted congress, barack obama was able to remain patient, calm and bipartisan, up til the last moment, to try and keep to the best traditions in american government....though we can no longer live up to them, and try to work together.
and despite all odds, we will have passed the only bill that was possible to pass right now.
and then, we will have been salvaged from a major depression, have major health care legislation passed, a president who won a nobel peace prize, a vice-president who had the courage to finally condemn the israeli government that is now biting the hand that feeds them and flying in the face of the lessons they should have learned from history and we will move on to work for jobs....and do whatever can be done under these less than bright circumstances in the life and times now, of the united states.
there will always be oppositional thinking, meanspiritedness, criticism....but the record of accomplishments and the manner in which he has tried to accomplish them....with civility, patience and great attempts at bi-partisanship will all be recorded.
despite the loud gongs of the detractors, many of us admire the civility and courage of barack obama.
moving through the swamp and quicksand of american politics, pollsters and the media...we are slowly making progress.
in this climate, the passage of this bill is a major accomplishment. when it is passed, for many of us, it will be a cause for celebration.
we dont live in a perfect world, but anything that makes life better and safer and healthier for many people is change that i can believe in.

Posted by: jkaren | March 11, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

I've come to one inescapable conclusion in the last decade but more significantly in the last 2-3 years. As a nation we are doomed to endless cycles of fearmongering and distortion by parties with an axe to grind for the foreseeable future.

The founders assumed there would be a functioning press to keep everyone in check with facts and truth. They clearly didn't anticipate the rise of TV news and the ratings wars that create incentives to perpetuate lies and falsely frame debates to generate drama.

I enjoy wasting time thinking of creative solutions to problems like these, but this one has me stumped. Short of some kind of Orwellian rule that prohibits the communication of false information, I don't see a viable way to restore one of democracy's most important ingredients.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | March 11, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"But you should know that the numbers don't necessarily back up my belief on this."

You kind of become my hero when you acknowledge stuff like this.

It's disturbing.

Posted by: slag | March 11, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

They would have been better off if they had this in the que during the *transition*, with it to follow right after the Stimulus.

I know the Omnibus Appropriations Act was what followed, and that wasn't the smoothest battle. They also did not get Franken until July 7, 2009. But between the Stim, the Budget and the Sotomayor issues, Leadership should have more wisely used those "distractions" less to distract from work getting done on Healthcare but instead to distract the narrative away from Healthcare.


John

Posted by: toshiaki | March 11, 2010 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - If you're going to exclude Rasmussen you should also exclude YouGov - biased from the oppostide side.

Posted by: MBP2 | March 11, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I think you meant to say "the health-care bill is getting less unpopular"

Still for every one person who strongly approves of this bill theres two who strong disapprove.

And if Barack Obama didn't want the American people to believe there were death panels in this legislation he should've spent less time up front telling the NY Times how he didn't think that provinding "hip surgery" to people like his grandmother who would die soon might not be fiscally sustainable. Are you really surprized to find that people might think that the party who supports access to abortion on demand might think the same think about a young baby with Downs syndrome?

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

This is an exercise in futility. If the Democrats succeed, and Obamacare is passed, the price of the burdun of cost will sink the economy! The fact is we are desparate for a clean up and reform of health care, but a government control and administration of it will be an utter disaster! We can, do it together. both parties, without federalization, a whole new federal bureau of health established, but NO Democrats insist on national finacial suicide instead! We cannot afford the Government take-over and Tax!
I will personally encourage every thoughtful person I can to vote OUT every Democrat in office anywhere. We must stop the mindless "groupthink" idiocy controlling the nation right now.

Posted by: USDefender | March 11, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=aGrKbfWkzTqc

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse

People need to stop lying and telling the public there are DEATH PANELS in this legislation...I found out who THAT first liar was who said this----even BEFORE Sarah Palin's Facebook note:


http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=aGrKbfWkzTqc

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

@FE007 Are you really surprized to find that people might think that the party who supports access to abortion on demand might think the same think about a young baby with Downs syndrome?

I am not surprised that right wing trolls and the Faux News echo chamber and related commenters push this kind of totally unsubstantiated pernicious fear mongering.

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 12:57 PM | Report abuse

"When polls trend negatively toward health reform, Ezra Klein says it shows that people really don't understand the legislation.

When polls trend more positively, Ezra Klein cites the polls to show momentum.

Hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty, much?"
==
Yeah. Yeah, it could mean that. Or it could mean that as more people are learning the truth about the legislation, and thus solving the problem of people not understanding it; it creates momentum for the bill.

Posted by: elijah24 | March 11, 2010 1:02 PM | Report abuse

USDefender, I can't wait to hear your solutions. Just make sure it includes near universal coverage, cost controls, improved access for the poor and near poor to community health centers, expansion of Medicaid, and an end to preexisting condition denials and rescission for unrelated errors on enrollment forms.

Does it surprise you that every other modern democracy (and even developing countries like Costa Rica) are able to deliver equal or superior aggregate health outcomes spending 1/2 to 3/4 as much as we do while providing universal coverage? Why is it that the US is the only modern democracy that doesn't have near universal coverage? What is the reason that not a single modern democracy would trade their health care system for the US system? Why is the # of medical bankruptcies orders of magnitude higher in the US than in any other modern democracy?

This has been another lesson in why we need HCR 101.

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you are so right that if the democrats could have passed Health Insurance Reform before the hideous August townhalls and the rise of the teabaggers, we would be more than 6 months into educating people about the benefits which will result to them from reform, especially if we could have gotten a robust public option included.

I feel really badly that Baucus seemed to have so little support or courage that he chose to defer to his "bipartisan" group of 8 and thus wasted several months on watering down this essential bill instead of including all on his finance committee in the discussion. Unfortunately, what's done is done and we can only move forward.

Wouldn't it be miraculus if we could get a majority of the Senate to include a public option in the reconciliation measure, recapturing what many of us see as the heart of reform?

I just read the article elsewhere in the Post where more and more employers are passing on premium costs to employees, and are also sometimes offering them lesser plans because employers can't afford to continue the better, pricier insurance plans.

Now that this crisis is finally even hitting the folks who "knew" that they were safe because they had employer-sponsored coverage, I hope that this fact, plus the massive private individual insurance policy increases we've seen lately, will finally get their attention

Please keep up your excellent work on educating us and keeping us posted as new developments arise. I really appreciate your insights and "fair and balanced" (sorry for the Foxism!) reporting.

Posted by: tescherm | March 11, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Klein, if health reform is gaining in popularity, how come the Dems can't get the votes to pass it? When are you going to write about the so-called "Slaughter Solution" that would essentially deem the Senate version of health reform passed without even taking a vote? What Pelosi is considering is unthinkable. Hasn't Barry been calling for an up or down vote?

Now, the elitist, public hating democrats are poking Americans in the eye while saying, "Even though there are rules and laws in place for passing legislation and even though you don't seem to want this health reform, we're going outside the lines to make it law. Because you're too dumb to know what's good for you, we'll do it despite your objections. What do you think this is, representative government?"

Posted by: superman32 | March 11, 2010 1:08 PM | Report abuse

You're right Ezra.

This bill is becoming SO POULAR!!

You Dems should consider slowing things down so that the issue sticks around and its popularity sweeps the incumbent Democrats in with an easy re-election victory in November!!

What do you say?

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

elijah24 - You're right. This muist've been part of Obama's master plan, when he told them there were going to be deat panels in this legislation, and then later attack people for lying when they repeated it:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=aGrKbfWkzTqc

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

srw3 - Did you read the link?

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Passing the bill last summer would have been way better. I am glad that it is regaining some of its former popularity, but these gains come at the expense of most of the political capital from Obama and the dumbocrat congresscritters.

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

"We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." - Nancy Pelosi

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 1:22 PM | Report abuse

@FE007 From the link

Obama said “you just get into some very difficult moral issues” when considering whether “to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill.

“That’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues,” he said in the April 14 interview. “The chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health- care bill out here.”

I don't see anything about to death panels here as a solution to this problem. I do think that it is a difficult moral issue, if in fact, one believes that there is a finite amount a society can spend on health care. If there is no limit on the amount of money spent on healthcare, then there is no issue, but I don't think a society can survive is health care costs go up indefinitely as a % of GDP.

I am waiting for your plan to allocate a finite amount of health care spending over a person's lifetime.

Just wondering, do you think that spending a majority of a person's lifetime health care dollars in the last 6 months of life is a smart or sustainable way to allocate health care dollars?

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

FastEddie, I assume you have some evidence of the president telling that lie before everyone else? because if so, you are the only person who heard him say it. You are entitled to your own opinion. Not your own facts.

Posted by: elijah24 | March 11, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

I'd take you just a touch more seriously if you also let us know when poll numbers were down. Stop cheerleading.

Posted by: visionbrkr | March 11, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Was there a shortage of news-sources informing you when the polls were down? It's all you heard on FAUX News, CNN and MSNBC. It's not like he was trying to make it a state secret.

Posted by: elijah24 | March 11, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Klein,

This just doesn't work. For starters, error terms do not go away just because you aggregate multiple polls together. As the "increase" in support has not gone beyond the error terms you cannot say the "increase" is statistically significant.

Also, any Poli Sci undergrad could look at the data and see that the real outlier is not Rassmussen, but the YouGov/Economist poll which is wildly out of whack with the other polls.

Why is that? Well, if you go read the Pollster piece you discover that YouGov CHANGED THEIR QUESTION. They decide to remove the reference to Congress (an historically unpopular Congress) and Lo! and Behold! the numbers rise.

Still, even with the suspect YouGov poll the changes in support/opposition are not greater than the error terms.

Posted by: rhorto01 | March 11, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I guess the troll patrol of FE007 and USDefender have moved on (all the better)...I guess my questions were too taxing for them.

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse

srw3 - I support Marty Feldstein's plan if ran at a state level that provides everyone to all access to healthcare so long as they 1.) buy catastrophic healthcare & 2.) pay up to 15% of their income for their first healthcare expenditures on an annual basis.

That is very progressive, but maintains market-rationing while avoiding federal-bureacrat rationing.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@FE007: That is very progressive

Huh? How is a flat 15% expenditure on health care regardless of income progressive? It is the definition of flat, you know like the flat tax, 1 rate. This is a much better deal for people with lots of money who can much more easily afford to spend 15% of their income on health care, just like the flat tax benefits high income earners. This is why rich people like it. People who use almost all of their income on food, shelter, clothing, etc. probably don't have an extra 15% to spend. They would probably put off going to the doctor for preventative care, just like people do now who can't afford deductibles. Not much of a solution.

And from the previous post, you seem to have missed these questions about end of life care, you remember, when you accused Obama of promoting death panels.

1. Where in the article you quote does Obama say anything about death panels? (a direct quote please)
2. regardless of what kind of insurance a person has, do you think that spending a majority of a person's lifetime health care dollars in the last 6 months of life is a smart or sustainable way to allocate finite health care dollars?
3. In a world of finite health care resources, how would you allocate spending throughout a person's life?

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

@FE007: A broader question: Why do you think that market rationing is the best solution for buying health care, which is qualitatively different from buying things like clothes or cars? Health care is a necessity (some including me would argue a right). We don't allocate fire or police protection via market forces. Why should a service like health insurance (protecting one's health) be different from these services?

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

It's actually not unreasonable to exclude Rasmussen here, on the grounds that his polls screen for likely voters instead of for the general public. From the perspective of elected officials trying to get votes in the next election, likely voter numbers are more important. From the perspective of elected officials trying to represent their constituents, it doesn't matter who's likelier to vote.

Either way, though, I think people are gradually mellowing out some of their opposition to health care reform. I actually think that's a somewhat predictable consequence of the debate dragging out this long. When opposition to the bill is rooted in fear of the unknown, then, as the bill becomes more familiar, that opposition softens. I also don't think the health care summit hurt the cause, especially in terms of rallying the troops.

Finally, it's possible that the uptick here has more to do with consolidation of left-wing support rather than convincing right-wingers to abandon opposition. That would actually be great news for Democrats, who need high turnout in November.

Posted by: jeffwacker | March 11, 2010 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Actually 15% would be the same rate for poor, working poor and middle class...presumably the rich would end up paying much more than the 15% because they wouldn't bother with the catastrophic of the 15% deal and its limitations.

Medical care is more like food. Some people would rather skip a few doctor visits and spend money on a trip to Cancum. Some people might want to skip a trip to Cancun and see and extra-special credentialed doctor to take care of a specific condition he is afraid of....free market rationing adheres to the way Americans choose to live---making their own choices about how they want their lives to be prioritized---and not a young healthy President's whim on whether an old lady's hip surgery is worth it or not. Or if a Downs syndrom child is likely to die within a year.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

If healthcare is a right----then where is my doctor to work for me when and how I say??!??

That whole concept is ridiculous.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 11, 2010 8:03 PM | Report abuse

@FE007: Some people would rather skip a few doctor visits and spend money on a trip to Cancum
I would say that this is the dumbest thing I have read, but I have read your other posts....People who use almost all of their income on food, shelter, clothing, etc. probably don't have an extra 15% to spend. These are the people who are in danger of not getting health care, not those who vacation in Cancun. Everyday people have to choose food or medicine, not medicine and vacations. What planet do you live on?

"Actually 15% would be the same rate for poor, working poor and middle class..
Read the post:

If everyone pays the same 15%, its not progressive. If rich people opt out, that doesn't make the system with everyone paying 15% progressive. It's nonsensical.

We don't have private firemen that we have to hire when our houses are burning. Insurance for one's health should work the same way, since like houses, our bodies need protection from disaster. You don't seem to get that.

Posted by: srw3 | March 11, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

FastEddie, Hmm. What a fitting name for an insurance company. Your reasoning and attitude fit very well too.

Posted by: scorplar | March 11, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

I just checked the constitution....there is no right to protection from fires in it. The federal government has no say on whether or not you municipality or state provides you with such services. Same goes for your police protection.

Actually the only interest the federal government has in such matters is to CONSTRAIN how your municipality implments fire protection or police protection---they cannot discriminate or invade your space, etc.

Having said that, do you honestly believe it would be in your interest for the federal government stepping in making sure every municipality had police protection and fire protection and that it was configured in a certain way up to a federal standard---and a big bureacracy was added to provide such services?

We'd be screwed almost as bad as if we were depending on people in Washington DC for our healthcare!

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 12, 2010 7:30 AM | Report abuse

@FE007
do you honestly believe it would be in your interest for the federal government

I certainly trust the feds to be more fair and equitable than relying on private industry to look out for my best interest. Gee, the current system with almost no govt intervention is working out so peachy we should continue depending on private industry to provide this essential service.

There is a phrase in the constitution "promote the general welfare" that in the modern era includes guaranteeing access to health care JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER MODERN DEMOCRACY.

Again:

A plan that has a flat 15% requirement before insurance kicks in is the opposite of progressive. A progressive plan would have the lowest income americans pay 1-3% gradually increasing until those with incomes of 100K would have to pay 15% or some such. I don't know what levels would make sense, but I do know that this would be a progressive system unlike the one you propose.

Does it surprise you that every other modern democracy (and even developing countries like Costa Rica) are able to deliver equal or superior aggregate health outcomes spending 1/2 to 3/4 as much as we do while providing universal coverage? Why is it that the US is the only modern democracy that doesn't have near universal coverage? What is the reason that not a single modern democracy would trade their health care system for the US system? Why is the # of medical bankruptcies orders of magnitude higher in the US than in any other modern democracy?

And
1. Where in the article you quote does Obama say anything about death panels? (a direct quote please)
2. regardless of what kind of insurance a person has, do you think that spending a majority of a person's lifetime health care dollars in the last 6 months of life is a smart or sustainable way to allocate finite health care dollars?
3. In a world of finite health care resources, how would you allocate spending throughout a person's life?

I know that you want to ignore these questions because you have no sensible or even plausible answers, but you started this by fibbing that Obama started the death panel meme.

Posted by: srw3 | March 12, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

The current system is failing BECAUSE OF FEDERAL INTERVENTION....

Medicare denies services t a higher rate than any private insurance company does

Medicare pays doctors less for doctor's services than private insurance, and thus doctors end up denying services to Medicare customers more than they deny people with insurance.

On top of all that, the perverted coupling of insurance with employment and comprehensive coverage have led to an overuse model where consumers face no personal consequences to requesting the most lavish medical care, even when not needed, because in their view they've already paid for it....we've replaced healthcare insurance with healthcare installments, and people's overuse this year leads to higher costs next year---but since OTHER people won't constrain their costs WHY SHOULD YOU is the thought of every healthcare customer....


We need a pay-go model for healthcare to reduce out-of-control costs. THIS bill is the WORST---it will BANKRUPT the USA and destroy healthcare.

I think the poor would be better off given an opportunity for access in a fiscally sustainable business model for healthcare than the healthcare system that is left when the USA goes bankrupt!

I care for the poor enough to avoid recklessness.

I know you care too, but you are sacrificing long-term consquences.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | March 12, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

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