Before people start throwing stones at the poll, let me offer a little response ahead of time. Our firm is non-partisan. We poll for major news organizations. In the 2008 race we showed Barack Obama winning in states like Florida, North Carolina and Virginia. We were right. As a result, a man who Time magazine named as one of The 100 Most Influential People in the World, whose entire job is to take polling data and predict results, named our firm, InsiderAdvantage as one of the three most accurate national pollsters for the 2008 presidential race. It ain't bragging if it's true, and I make this point so that those who reject the results of this poll must contend with the fact that we nailed Barack Obama's victory in November in very hotly contested states.
So why is this entire healthcare effort on the part of Congress such a non-starter? First of all, it involves the federal government. I would say given their track record in everything from delivering your mail to controlling costs, they probably rate pretty low with the public.
Next there is the issue of priorities. Right now most people are scared about whether they will have a job this time next year. Reforming healthcare is really about the last thing on their collective minds.
Moreover, they don't even trust the government programs that currently exist. Seventy-three percent of the respondents said that "in terms of dollars," they consider there to be significant waste in the federal Medicaid and Medicare programs. Sixty-one percent said that the waste in those programs should be addressed before any new legislation is enacted.
What should be most disturbing to the Democratically controlled Congress and to the White House is that, along with Republicans, a majority of independent voters opposed the proposal. Mind you, these are the very swing voters who put President Obama into office back in November. You can bet that the White House is seeing the same numbers we saw, and they likely are starting to realize that a House of Representatives over-the-top bill will be the kiss of death for anything Obama wants to pass.
As for the Senate, how would you like to be Bill Nelson of Florida or Kay Hagan of North Carolina, in whose states support for the bill is even weaker? These moderate Democrats are in deep trouble. They want to support "change we can believe in," but the problem is that their constituents don't like the change being proposed.
Maybe another reason for displeasure is that people are now learning how the plan would be funded. About half of the respondents to the poll said that either they or a family member worked for a company that does not currently provide health benefits. When asked what they thought the leadership of their company would do if either forced to pay for insurance or pay a tax of up to eight percent of each uninsured employee's salary, 59 percent said their company would either reduce the number of employees or try to lower salaries.
Trust me, this is one ugly bill.