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How much bad press can $100 million buy?

I'd assumed the slight deterioration in health-care reform's poll numbers since June was part and parcel of the deterioration in the Democrats' position since June, and the deterioration in perceptions that the economy is recovering. But Greg Sargent catches a New York Times story suggesting that there might be more to it than that:

Opponents of the legislation, including independent groups, have spent $108 million since March to advertise against it, according to Evan L. Tracey, president of the Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks advertising.

That is six times more than supporters have spent, including $5.1 million by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new law, Mr. Tracey said.

To keep things in perspective, though, the bill is almost exactly as popular -- and unpopular -- as the day it was signed into law. What's happened is that the bill got slightly more popular between March and June, and then slightly less popular again.

By Ezra Klein  | October 27, 2010; 4:58 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Divided government and deficits in one graph
Next: Reconciliation


I'd like to see the source of those HHS spending figures. The backup data should be available via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request; however, since FOIA requests are public and since there have been so satisfied requests for such data, I'm a bit puzzled by the inclusion of an actual HHS spending figure.

So far, most PPACA effects have been severely negative and the negativity is notable: children in Georgia losing health coverage, mini-meds disappearing, premium costs rising at the increased rate predicted by CMM, etc. Once the CBO revealed (in June) that the PPACA bent the health care cost curve upwards (not downwards as originally predicted), public sentiment changed. Other items -- such as today's OpEd regarding the PPACA's 2.6% tax on medical devices needed by veterans wounded in the line of duty -- have increased public knowledge of "what's in the bill," thereby increasing public rejection.

I'm more amazed by the fact that there are still some actual proponents of the PPACA: just about everyone has jumped ship except for the zealots who will never have any opinion other than the one spoon fed to them.

Posted by: rmgregory | October 27, 2010 7:11 PM | Report abuse

"2.6% tax on medical devices needed by veterans wounded in the line of duty..."

Could you make that tax sound anymore pernicious?

...this is the kind of partisan deception that has so many people posturing against this bill.

The mandatory coverage requirement for anyone wealthy enough to have insurance but who won't buy it because they can afford to pay cash, in this bill may be the only real unconstitutional thing about it, and that can be revised to give those rich folks relief. No doubt, they can afford it, but they are helping those less fortunate by doing so, and we can't expect that now, can we?

Otherwise, with that one exception, every fake indignation and tea party complaint is nothing more than greedy pirates who have found a new way to manage healthcare for fun and profit. And not necessarily in that order.

Posted by: JEP07 | October 28, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Why is this surprising? Most of the benefits are scheduled to start four years from now -- all hail the CBO. The benefits so far -- yes, better than nothing, but nowhere near good enough -- are scarcely enough to inspire voters to vote for Democrats this election.

Posted by: stonedone | October 28, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Although the percentage of people supporting the health care bill remains the same as when it was passed, that does not mean the bill's popularity remains unchanged. A better approach than comparing percentage of support would be to ask whether you support it more or less than you did when it passed. Have individual opinions stayed the same or has there been a shift - erosion of moderate support but gains among liberals, or erosion among liberals but gains in moderates, or gains in moderates and liberals but a complete fall-out from conservatives?

Posted by: Levijohn | October 28, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Best efforts of President Obama notwithstanding, I don't see how any real reform can come to the market for health care without fixing the problem: the imbalance of market power between a privileged industry and its customers, which is to say, patients. The government obligingly protects the principal health care providers (doctors) from all meaningful competition with licensing schemes that delegate total control of who can and cannot "practice medicine" (ie, compete with them) to the doctors themselves, through their most powerful trade association.

If a trade association of farmers were granted similar control over who could farm in America, we would be paying $100 for a small melon, and demanding food subsidies from the government.

Posted by: Iconoblaster | October 28, 2010 4:23 PM | Report abuse

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