Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The White House remains in deep denial about the growing unpopularity of President Obama's government healthcare plan.

Recent polls not only show that a clear majority of voters disapprove of his government-run entitlement plan; they show that key groups who make up that majority -- seniors and independents -- are now moving away from the Democrats and toward Republicans in the 2010 election cycle.

Yet there was White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Monday telling reporters "the president believes health care is in better shape ... we think health care is in a better place."

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But the highly regarded Rasmussen poll reported earlier Monday that "just 41 percent of voters nationwide now favor the healthcare reform proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats. That's down two points from a week ago and the lowest level of support yet measured."

The Rasmussen poll shows that a 56 percent majority of Americans now oppose the plan, and a slight 47 percent to 46 percent plurality say that its passage is unlikely.

Perhaps most telling of all, senior citizens are strongly opposed to the $1 trillion plan -- with a muscular 59 percent of them opposed and just 33 percent in favor. Significantly, only 16 percent of Americans over 65 years of age "strongly favor" the Democratic bills, while 46 percent are "strongly opposed."

The White House-backed plan would be largely financed by up to $500 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending cuts that the elderly fear would lead to reduced medical payments, hospital services and other healthcare procedures. The administration and Democratic leaders deny this, saying they intend to cut only waste, fraud and abuse from the programs.

But there is also widespread doubt among rank-and-file Democrats in Congress that you can carve nearly $400 billion out of Medicare's budget without short-changing medical care for the nation's elderly.

And there's also growing fear that the deep cuts that would be required to bankroll Obama's costly healthcare plan will lead to a backlash among seniors in the 2010 midterm elections.

Obama has tried to turn the healthcare debate into a war against big insurance companies, wrongly believing that most Americans think, as he apparently does, that the health-insurance industry is devious, dishonest and unscrupulous. But most Americans don't believe this.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.