The nature of the opposition to health reform

The latest Kaiser Family Foundation report on Americans’ attitudes towards health care reform included some pretty interesting tidbits.

We learned, for example, that while those with unfavorable attitudes towards the Affordable Care Act outnumber supporters, most Americans want the law left intact or expanded, not repealed. That’s probably not what Republicans hoped to see.

Also, KFF found that Americans tend to strongly support the provisions within the health care reform law, though they’re still unclear about what is — and isn’t — in the act.

But this was the survey result that stood out for me:

Unfavorable views of the health reform law may be a proxy for more general disillusionment with the state of the country and Washington politics. A plurality (44 percent) of those who view the law unfavorably say their negative view is more about their general feelings about the direction of the country and what’s going on in Washington right now, while just a quarter say it’s based on what they know about the law.

Here’s the accompanying chart on this:

I’ve long wondered whether this is true, and I find this result oddly reassuring.

If the unemployment rate was 5% and President Obama enjoyed a 67% approval rating, it’s pretty damn likely support for the Affordable Care Act would be much higher than it is. Republicans would have us believe the law’s unpopularity is the result of overreach — the ACA is too liberal; it’s too much government, etc.

But there’s ample evidence to the contrary. Americans aren’t satisfied with much of anything coming out of Washington lately, and so attitudes towards the health care reform law are caught up in a general sense of discontent.

If/when conditions economic conditions improve, and the public gets a better sense of what the Affordable Care Act does (and doesn’t) offer the public, it still stands to reason the right will find it increasingly difficult to undo the entirety of the law.

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