Here Votes Everybody

Ezra Klein says the health care public plan is very popular in polling, so Senate opposition to it means "the Senate hates democracy" and "is resolutely, aggressively, anti-democratic."

Paul Krugman says poll results show that a majority of Americans prefer deficit reduction to higher government spending, but Krugman says "most people don’t know much about macroeconomics" so "the moral for Obama is, of course, to ignore this poll".


NOTE: Aside from the fact that people tend to accept or dismiss polls results based almost entirely on what they already wanted, I think there are two problems with the idea that popular support equals legitimacy, propriety or even democracy.

  1. Stated preference (poll) and revealed preference (how people actually behave when making a choice) differ widely.
  2. With no real price mechanism through which people can evaluate the costs and benefits of policy, we end up with simultaneous public support for massive spending and minimal taxation.  Well, who doesn't want something for nothing?

#1 is a political problem that can't really be changed - thus, we have a representative democracy, rather than direct democracy.

#2 is a policy problem that both Republicans and Democrats should be doing more to fix - e.g., indexing tax rates to spending, pigovian taxes, federalism, etc.

Your rating: None


what is Klein smoking?

Ok, let;s look at Stan Greenberg's pessimistic take on the issue

and this is from the latest WSJ -NBC poll

Do not have an opinion ...................... 30 34

Not sure............................................. 5 7 



 From what you have heard about Barack Obama's health care plan, do you think his plan is a good idea or a bad idea? If you do not have an opinion either way, please just say so.

6/09 4/09

Good idea............................................ 33 33


Bad idea .............................................. 32 26

You sure do have some reading comprehension issues


Klein is talking about popularity of a public plan in polling, not whether people like what they know of the Obama plan. (FWIW, many liberals disagree with his plan as it is now, inlcuding his personal doctor) :

NBC / Wall Street Journal

Specifications: 1,008 American adults on June 12th-15th, including a cellphone sample.

Question Wording and Results:

"In any health care proposal, how important do you feel it is to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance––extremely important, quite important, not that important, or not at all important?

Extremely Important: 41%

Quite Important: 35% (76% Extremely or Quite Important)

Not That Important: 12%

Not At All Important: 8% (20% Not That or Not At All Important)





Note the usual Rasmussen outlier

Nate is way too diplomatic in his treatment of Rasmussen, but I really appreciate his analysis of the polls, here:

It's like asking people if they support Christmas

Once you add the specifics of how to pay for the plan et al, these numbers don;t hold up. The number regresses to the tepid support for the "Obama plan". Given Obama personally is popular, one reaches the rather simple inference that even a popular salesman can;t make a flawed product more popular.

If these toplines were real, the Dem caucus would be clubbing the Republicans in the Senate.  Maybe folks like Diane Feinstein know more about winning elections than lefty bloggers, just maybe....  

And did you actually read the Stan Greenberg article? I have no use for Stan, but he's forgotten more about politics than most of us will ever know. He's not drinking the Kool Aid the sales pitch here is easy and simple.

Ok, so free lunch is popular...

 Hasn't it always been thus? It's the Republicans' job to explain why a free lunch is never free. And why when lunch is free, the people who create the lunch in question wind up enslaved—or in another line of work. It's also up to Republicans to explaiin and argue the laws of supply and demand, and what the implications of SAD are when the price of a good or service is legally mandated to zero or near-zero: shortage.

But the Republicans seem to be not recognizing any of these things. The tea party demonstrations drew them a freaking picture, and they still don't get it. And that only means one thing: one or both of the current major parties has to go. Freedom must have a major party advocate, or we're toast.



Why the Right against a Public Health Insurance option? 

If it passes, against their best efforts, and if it is succesful, America will never take the Right seriously again.

And if it fails because of them, America will not soon forget.

Susceptibility to reason

 So Jim Dandy, I noticed that "if it passes and fails on it's own accord" is not one of your options. That says a lot about the way you "think." 

If it passes..

... and fails on its own accord, the Right will not get any credit for its failure either, only a share of the blame.

At best, you MAYBE get to point and whine "We told you so!", which is not going to get anyone insured, and we will still be at FAIL.


Even YOU are "smart" enough to think your way thru the implications of that case.


On point number two...

the problem is that the Republicans are only offering a straw-man argument about the public option and/or single payer (which appears now to be firmly off the table). When every other industrialized nation has public health insurance and it hasn't bankrupted them, it's hard to argue that it will bankrupt us. Yet this is all we hear. I understand why the cost isn't being discussed. The proponents of the public option don't want to discuss it, because you have to raise taxes to pay for it, and raising taxes is never popular. The opponents give the proponents a free pass by only offering up an easily ignorable straw-man. The Republicans have been screaming that Armageddon is going to result from every issue that has come up since January 20th. While this plays well to the base, it does little to influence the compromise discussion at the middle. After five months of this, the Democrats don't even have to respond at this point. I certainly don't blame them. If the Democrats acted like this, I wouldn't expect the Republicans to respond either.

Most people who have private insurance from their employer understand that they're going to pay for it one way or the other. Most employers don't let their employees forget that heath insurance is part of their compensation. I think it's a bit naive to think that everyone, or even a significant percentage, of those polled think that it's a choice between free health care or no free health care. How dumb to you really think everyone is? Again, another straw-man. It's a fake argument to say "who doesn't want something for nothing?" because that wasn't the question asked, and a majority of the respondents are smart enough to know that. It's too bad that the rest of the point gets lost as a result. It would be nice to see the full cost-benefit analysis, but there is no incentive to offer that when one side refuses to have a serious discussion.