In the three days following President Obama's speech to Congress pitching his proposed makeover of the U.S. health care system, the Washington Post-ABC News poll asked this question: "Overall, given what you know about them, would you say you support or oppose the proposed changes to the health care system being developed by Congress and the Obama administration?
Now, as recently as late June, President Obama's approval rating was at 65 percent in this same poll. Given that level of support for the president at the beginning of summer, you might have expected that a majority of Americans would now support the proposal the president and his party spent all summer promoting.
Forty-eight percent of Americans said they oppose Obama's health care plan. Only 46 percent said they support it. In the same poll, Obama's job approval rating dropped to 54 percent, continuing a slide that started in April.
But the most interesting number in the poll came in response to this question: "Which of these comes closest to your own view: 'The more I hear about the health care plan, the more I like it,' or, 'The more I hear about the health care plan, the less I like it.'
Fifty-four percent said the more they hear about Obama's health care plan, the less they like it. Only 41 percent said they more they hear about the more the like it.
Because of poll numbers like these, Obama and his allies are now signaling that they might be willing to jettison the one part of the health care plan Americans have heard about most: the public option.
According to the Washington Post-ABC News poll, support for the health-care plan climbs to 50 percent when this element is abandoned.
Don't be surprised if Obama tosses the public option overboard in his final effort to establish a beachhead for socialized medicine.
This prospect is why Americans need to focus their attention now on an element of the bill that is as great a threat to their liberty as the public option. It is the public subsidy.
While a government-run health insurance plan would threaten to force private insurers out of business, causing America to end up with the government as the sole health insurance provider, the public subsidy for health insurance premiums created by both House and Senate versions of the health care bill would lead to the government paying for at least part of the health insurance premiums for most Americans.