Both sides have it exactly backward. The GOP should be terrified, and the Democrats need to grow a spine.
First, Republicans are on the wrong side of the issue. Americans support health-care reform—and not just a little bit. In no fewer than 12 CNN polls since March 2011, a clear majority, averaging 53 percent, either support the Affordable Care Act or think it does not go far enough, with an average of 38 percent opposing the law. These results are remarkably consistent over three years of intense polling. In the most recent round of polling, supporters outnumber opponents by a good 10 percent.
Unfortunately, when the press reports these results, the roughly 12 percent who think we should go further toward national single payer health care get lumped in with conservative opponents. Although it makes no sense, this simplistic line has been repeated ad nauseam until it has ossified into accepted fact. But President Obama knows the real numbers. That is why, despite being caught out with his “you can keep it” rhetoric, he is still comfortable holding a hard line.
Republicans’ fixation on the Affordable Care Act has been very costly for them. Even though more than two-thirds of all Americans opposed their government shutdown strategy to defund Obamacare, the GOP leadership allowed radical Tea Party obstructionists to lead them off a political cliff. Why?
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