What America Really Thinks About Obamacare

When I see discussion of Obamacare in the media and especially on blogs, I often see the impression that Obamcare is a communist scheme to impose socialised medicine in the United States:

Communist

Actually, Obamacare was first dreamt up by the conservative Heritage Foundation, and first implemented at the state level by the Republican former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. (And for what it’s worth, I wrongly judged Republican opposition to Obamacare as an immovable obstacle in Romney’s quest to become the Republican Presidential nominee, but I guess Republicans were far more fickle than I thought). So as its origin implies, Obamacare is not exactly a communist, or social democratic idea. A charge of socialism or communism might be more fairly levelled against Obamacare if Obamacare were a law to confiscate all hospitals, drug companies, biotechnology companies and insurance companies from private hands. But it does no such thing. The opposite, in fact. More principled critics of Obamcare might more accurately describe it as corporatist — guaranteeing revenue streams for the insurance industry through the individual mandate — but that has not exactly been the Republican Party’s line of attack.

Given that opposition by the Republican-controled House to Obamacare is the most significant cause of the current government shutdown, it is worthwhile looking over how Americans actually feel about the law, not least to gauge the extent to which Americans may or may not support the Republicans now that their opposition to Obamacare is having real consequences.

It has long been said that Obamacare is unpopular, and the polls bear this out. A September CNN/ORC poll showed that Obamacare was supported by 43% of respondents, and opposed by 51% of respondents. But here’s the catch: 16% of respondents opposed Obamacare for not being liberal enough. Presumably, they would prefer a single payer system, as is the reality throughout most of Europe an Canada. (Of course, a move to such a system might be more fairly described as socialist, but that is another argument for another day). A sizeable number want something more liberal than Obamacare, and so would presumably prefer Obamacare to the status quo, even if they still claim to oppose it. So the consensus is actually against the Republican position by 59% to 35%. And that is why opposing Obamacare in this fight-to-the-death manner will be received negatively by a majority of Americans. Only 35% of Americans are against Obamacare because it is too liberal, and even then a substantial number of those — such as seniors who receive government benefits, or poor rural Republicans receiving food stamps — may be against shutting down the government to fight Obamacare. The Republicans are fighting a losing fight, and as the shutdown grinds on may be doing irreparable damage to their 2014 election prospects.

More generally, I find it rather puzzling that Republicans — convinced Obamacare will fail disastrously — are going to such lengths to oppose it. Like Prohibition once was, it is now law, and if it is destined to precipitate disaster — by increasing unemployment, by increasing healthcare costs, by increasing strain on the healthcare system, or by any other means — then it will be quickly rejected and repealed in the future.

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44 thoughts on “What America Really Thinks About Obamacare

  1. “Like Prohibition once was it is now law, and if it is destined to precipitate disaster — by increasing unemployment, by increasing healthcare costs, by increasing strain on the healthcare system, or by any other means — then it will be quickly rejected and repealed in the future.”

    The purpose of the law is to continue [enlarge] the gravy-train for the entrenched interests. It is corporatism at its finest.

    John, all American institutions could be defined by your description above, but they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  2. The only polling that matters (for this fight) is polling at the level of the congressional district. There’s little doubt this will hurt the Republican party, but I can see it helping Ted Cruz and the 80 republicans in the house who originally signed the defund Obamacare letter and convinced House Leadership to go along with them. Probably the best treatment of this polarization at the district level comes from Nate Silver: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/as-swing-districts-dwindle-can-a-divided-house-stand/

  3. The opinion of a friend of mine who, I would say, is mostly of the social-democratic persuasion, is that Obamacare is bad, but all the alternatives are worse; we cannot do any better because large corporations have more influence in the government than anyone else, and they will not permit a medical insurance system which does not pay them off. She would prefer Single Payer, but she’s not going to get it any time soon.

    As many have noted, Obama’s system was invented by Romney, or someone working for him, so it’s hardly a piece of communism. The fanatical Republican opposition is ideologically incoherent, as is the party generally. Its components — religious fanatics, business interests, libertarians, neo-conservatives — are all inherently at odds with one another and it would not be surprising if they broke apart in the not-too-distant future, leaving only the corrupt, corporatist Democrats as the sole major party.

  4. Romneycare and Obamacare are not the same. Romney specifically said he recommended Romneycare for all states but would never implement at the federal level. The important difference is that all states (save one, Vermont) require a balanced budget. The balanced budget, unlike the federal nonexistent budget process, provides a very much needed constraint on health care prices and program “creep”.

    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts had no constitutional restraint on mandatory health care. Obamacare could only pass constitutionality when Chief Justice John Roberts changed the argument, one not put forth by the Obama administration, to one of taxation.

    Btw, American governance is not “make it up as we go along”. U.S. governance is guided and restricted by the Constitution, like it or not. Bloggers tend to forget or ignore this fact.

    • Constitutionality is decided by the Supreme court. While we may all personally disagree with certain Supreme Court decisions, it is silly to throw toys out of the pram and shut down the government simply because a decision didn’t go your way. The legitimate way to deal with these things is to take them as a long term issue. The legitimate way under the US system to get what Repiublicans want is to win some elections, repeal Obamacare legislatively, appoint different Supreme Court justices in future. If the Republicans were a responsible party that is the route they would take. The fact that they can’t do that does not give them an excuse to hold the whole of society ransom to their demands. In the long run, this will just damage their popularity with the country at large, and set the US on a road to breakup of the union.

      • John – You are not listening. Romney would not have passed Romneycare at the federal level as President. You are making a false argument and creating a zero chance hypothetical to attack the white middle class or Republicans or whatever your agenda is. Get back to logically constructed arguments that are not clouded by your political agenda, please.

        • Romney would not have passed Romneycare at the federal level as President

          Just because Romney said at one point (when Obamacare was the most unpopular thing under the sun among Republicans) that he wouldn’t pass something like Obamacare at the Federal level does not mean that he would not have done it. The man has a track record of flip flopping on anything that is politically advantageous. He passed the same law at a state level and then engaged in some justifying rhetoric to sell himself to the Republican primaries. Big deal. Romney would sell his Grandmother to get elected.

          And I’m not really trying to attack anyone. I just think it’s completely insane that the Republicans are flirting with default which would completely destabilise global markets in order to fight a passed law that 59% of America either supports, or wants a “more liberal” version of. I’m not even a supporter of Obamacare, I think it’s an extremely messy system, although I doubt it can be worse than the present system where 48 million people are without coverage and where people are denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

  5. So as its origin implies, Obamacare is not exactly a communist, or social democratic idea.

    the origin does not imply properties of an idea. idea is either socialistic or not. regardless if proposed by left-wing or right-wing. the problem is that today right-wing is as socialist as left-wing :P

    if it is destined to precipitate disaster (…) then it will be quickly rejected and repealed in the future.

    yeah, like overspending, raising debt ceilings, bailouts, overregulations and such :P bad law get revoked, right? :P

    Europe has been struggling with ill effects of socialist healthcare for decades, jealously glimpsing at US healthcare, unable to escape it. it will be just like Social Security – once you step into it, you’ll get trapped until it fails.

    and now for something compeletly different:

    there are two guys in the hospital waiting for liver transplant and one liver in the fridge.
    – capitalism says: the guy that gave society more valueable service and received more money for it, will be the first one to get the liver
    – socialism says: share the costs, share the liver! cut the liver in two. everyone get’s it’s fair part!
    – kleptocratism says: the one that tricked more masses to belive in what socialism says and received more money for it, will be the first one to get the liver
    – communism says: keep the liver in fridge in case some party member needs it.
    – statism says: let the Government Liver Agency officials decide to keep the liver in fridge in case some party member needs it.
    – wallstreetism says: rehypotecate the liver, sell it to ten different people
    – goldmanism says: rehypotecate the liver, sell it to ten different people, securitize, short sell
    – putinism says: put one guy into prison, the other guy gets the liver
    – krugmanism says: scrap the liver to spur growth so you’ll have two.

    • the origin does not imply properties of an idea. idea is either socialistic or not. regardless if proposed by left-wing or right-wing. the problem is that today right-wing is as socialist as left-wing :P

      The bigger point here is that if it was called Romneycare and passed by President Mitt Romney (who passed a similar law in Massachusetts) the GOP wouldn’t be fighting it. Ultimately the origin doesn’t matter (Obamacare would be socialistic if it actually confiscated hospitals, insurance companies, etc, from private hands), but the origin does tell an interesting story.

      yeah, like overspending, raising debt ceilings, bailouts, overregulations and such :P bad law get revoked, right? :P

      If these things haven’t precipitated disasters can we honestly say that they are disastrous? I have my strong suspicions about problems with bailouts of failed corporations and systems in particular (although I tend more toward deconstructing broken things in a controlled way, rather than letting them chaotically liquidate) but actual evidence is thin, and will emerge over the coming years and decades.

      The worst laws, even things like the War on Drugs do eventually get repealed. If I was a Congressman trying to shut down the government for any reason it would be over the War on Drugs and NSA spying, but even these hideous infractions of liberty are I don’t think a good enough reason for suicide bombing global markets.

      As for the liver, I think a version of Krugmanism is the smartest way to deal with it, technology permitting. If you can quickly take stem cells and grow two livers, then that’s perfect.

      • Obamacare would be socialistic if it actually confiscated hospitals, insurance companies, etc, from private hands

        Social Security schemes based on private funds with obligatory participation are considered socialistic and somehow they always end up with state confiscating the whole scheme when it fails. it’s all about redistribution. these attempts cannot grow livers, they can only redistribute. when troubles arise you’ll see new agencies emerge to deal with it. you’ll end up with federal bodies overseeing heathcare like Fed overseeing binking system. this is what we have where I live.

        As for the liver, I think a version of Krugmanism is the smartest way to deal with it, technology permitting. If you can quickly take stem cells and grow two livers, then that’s perfect.

        I already said you’re losing yourself to the dark side Darth Aziz :P

        I’m just anxious the two patients are not gonna make it. and what makes you think you’re really gonna grow two healthy livers with no problems? this way – as usual – assumes everything will go as planned. because this time it will be different. risk-free world.

        in capitalism, the one guy provided the society with resources to keep the fridge going. the next one will just keep money for himself and wait for “technology permitting” do its krumanic magic. as if technology made it free lunch already.

        If these things haven’t precipitated disasters can we honestly say that they are disastrous?

        but they have. check out eastern Europe. middle class in Poland no longer relies on public healthcare they paid for, we take ADDITIONAL private insurance (often provided by employeers, unless someone is a freelancer and buy one himself) so we pay twice.

        • I’m just anxious the two patients are not gonna make it. and what makes you think you’re really gonna grow two healthy livers with no problems? this way – as usual – assumes everything will go as planned. because this time it will be different. risk-free world.

          There are just as many “what ifs” on the other side. What if the guy with the rich man’s body rejects the transplant or dies of blood poisoning or an infection? There are undoubtedly risks to every single approach to this, and hypotheticals where everyone loses. If you can grow two livers and save two lives, then that is the rational approach for a capitalist hospital to take, as two lives saved and two happy customers will be a boost to their business. If you can save one life, that is better than zero. Ultimately, doctors have a huge comparative advantage in identifying which treatments will and won’t work, so their input should be central to any decisions. Listening to doctors will probably in the long run maximise profit for a capitalist hospital.

          but they have. check out eastern Europe. middle class in Poland no longer relies on public healthcare they paid for, we take ADDITIONAL private insurance (often provided by employeers, unless someone is a freelancer and buy one himself) so we pay twice.

          I don’t think there is any doubt that socialised or free at the point of access systems can fail completely, or deteriorate to a very great degree under mismanagement. Central planners without (preferably both) market feedback and real technical understanding are not generally good allocators of resources. I am not going to deny that this is a future possibility for Obamacare, or the NHS. And countries in the former Eastern bloc are good examples of systems where these kinds of things have failed in the past. Whether a failed Obamacare is necessarily any worse than the status quo where 48 million people are uninsured, and medical costs are by far highest in the world remains to be seen, but I very much doubt it can be much worse. Certainly the NHS here in Britain has many problems (and if you have the money, it can be better to see a private Doctor or Dentist as I recently did) but it is not a total disaster and for most patients it is probably superior to the American status quo.

      • Your thesis is that “Bad laws get identified and repealed, just like the War on Drugs?” I was actually just scanning down the comments to see whether anyone had posted that as a disproof or parody of your thesis…

    • ‘capitalism says: the guy that gave society more valueable service and received more money for it’

      That’s not capitalism. You’d have to have some kind of totalitarian state that inspected everyone’s behavior very closely and then determined, according to some algorithm that’s hard to even imagine, what each person’s contribution was worth. The labor of investigation and calculation would require a huge army of bureaucrats. A capitalist system does not care about such things; all that matters is what each can get or take according to its rules, which include unequal luck, including inheritance and upbringing, and a lot of wiggle room for certain kinds of deception, pressure and swindling. So in the case you propose the liver goes to whoever has the most money at the time regardless of how she or he happened to get the money.

      • The mistake made is equating abundance of monetary tokens with contribution to society. This creates a false moral equivalence, which indeed I would not really equate with capitalism.

        In the specific example discussed, if you can take one liver, and make two out of it using advanced medical techniques, surely that is better than simply just selling it to the highest bidder. Although it should be noted that under capitalism, this solution should be acceptable (so long as the costs of the procedure are kept under control) as the hospital can charge for two livers!

        • The mistake made is equating abundance of monetary tokens with contribution to society.

          this is not a mistake. every element of society values contribution to him in terms of money. because the party providing contribution expects to get more money value than it itself values the effort -> statistically the higher money value, the better must be the contribution to him. if it was different then people would repeatedly pay a lot money for worthless stuff and go bankrupt (big costs, no gain). that’s what happened in communist countries. thus the whole society values contribution in terms of money. the most valueable contributions are those about rarest resources and highest prices.

          of course abuse of capitalism in form of socialism, corporationism etc will bias this valuation money=quality-of-contribution but that’s not problem of capitalism but of culuture departing from it.

      • That’s not capitalism.

        yes it is. you don’t have to inspect enything. the one guy provided services valuable to others, and they returned valueable monies to him.

        what each can get or take according to its rules

        yeah and the primary rule is we have to pay a lot for something valueable.

        • No, in capitalism, at least of the traditional kind, how you got your money is not questioned (as long as you did not overtly break any laws). There are many ways of getting money besides providing valuable services, such as providing services that seem to be valuable but aren’t, inheriting it, finding it in the street, gambling, trading, speculating, talking someone out of it, playing a rentier role of some kind, and so forth. In a capitalist community, what people want to know is, do you have the money, not where and how you got it.

  6. Aziz – “What if distribution of money is more about luck than service to society?”

    What if distribution of money is more about buying off politicians with campaign money. Then, once having bought them, you lobby hard to change laws in your favour, have your lawyers draw up legislation (the more confusing the better, so the public can’t get a bead on the looting taking place).

    For something to happen, you always need favourable conditions. How do you get those favourable conditions? Well, you set them up. How do you set them up? A lot of moola.

    What if distribution of money is nothing more than “green engineering” – i.e. I grease your palm, you grease mine?

    That, my friends, is how the world works. It certainly is not the case that the person who has the most money is the one who contributed the most. Oh, he gave, but it was to himself, not society. If society happened to benefit, it was purely by accident.

  7. Charles Hugh Smith – “The New, Improved 1984″:

    Over 61 million people get a check from Social Security, over 50 million draw Medicare benefits, another 50 million get Medicaid benefits, 47 million receive SNAP food stamp benefits, 22 million people work directly for the state on all levels, millions more work for government contractors that are effectively proxies of the state, millions more receive Federally funded extended unemployment, retirement checks, Section 8 housing benefits, and so on.
    Orwell underestimated the power of complicity. Once a citizen receives a direct payment from the state, the state has purchased their complicity, for no matter how much that citizen may complain privately about the state, he or she will never risk the payment/benefit by resisting the state in a politically meaningful way.
    Once you get a check from the state, you begin loving your servitude. The collusion of the state and its central bank is truly a thing of authoritarian beauty: the central bank (the Federal Reserve) creates money out of thin air and buys government bonds with the new money. The state can thus borrow unlimited sums at low rates of interest, and continue to send tens of millions of individual payments out to buy the passivity and complicity of its citizens.
    The state is great when it sends you money, never mind where or how it gets the money or the incalculable costs of subservience and complicity.
    We don’t hate Big Brother; we don’t care about Big Brother or the fear-mongering or the rewriting of history or any of the rest of it, as long as the state’s money flows to our individual account. Our complaints are as hollow as the state’s financial “facts.”

    http://www.oftwominds.com/blogaug13/1984-improved8-13.html

    And the elite are making a killing off the above as well. Everybody’s rubbing their hands together, palms are being greased right, left and center. The people are ignorant, but the elite are not.

    Democracy is great – you get to keep electing yourself more free stuff. Placated, you don’t really pay much attention to anything, i.e. your jobs being shipped overseas.

    Ponzi on!

    • Once you get a check from a corporation, you’re getting a check from the state. It’s pretty hard to figure out what to do about it, since most of us need, or think we need, some kind of money income. Corporate employment or its analogs of Welfare and Disability Insurance seem like the most obvious solutions to the problem for most people.

      It’s true that if you’re young you can scavenge and couch-surf, but then you’re usually just living off other people who have to submit to the state on your behalf.

      Or, if you have the skills and capital, you can go into business for yourself, but once again you’re going to have to have as customers or clients either corporations, other state institutions like the government, or people who work for them. The modern state is pretty comprehensive, indeed, totalitarian.

    • It’s never been any other way.

      The key lies in understanding human nature [especially in social groups], then attempting to attenuate its always pathological effects. Most people believe groups can be, “good,” and this [idea] is what ALL the propaganda is about [nurturing].

      Revolution occurs when people finally ‘get’ that their beloved group is not so wonderful, after all.

      • Humans are necessarily highly social animals, so if there cannot be any beneficial groupings, this presents something of a problem. Revolt or departure gets them — another group.

        • Indeed, but so does all intellection. This is why the thinking mind only points toward the truth of the matter.

          Groups are what they are, and although people understand their need to be social, they have a very difficult time separating what they need from the group from what the group does to destroy their individuality [e.g, political systems, economic systems, "education," etc.].

          If mankind is to develop to a higher level then he must learn how to restore the “rights” of the individual within in the group. Although seemingly paradoxical, it does happen on occasion, generally precipitated by some sort of natural or other disaster where people are able to see the truth and react accordingly.

          It’s all about awareness, something unavailable on-line or in any book.

  8. Pingback: wchildblog | What America Really Thinks About Obamacare

  9. Australia’s universal health care system. Workers are taxed a flat rate “From 1 July 2012, if you become liable for MLS, your MLS rate can either be 1%, 1.25% or 1.5%. Prior to this, the MLS rate was 1%” http://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Medicare-levy/Medicare-levy-surcharge/

    http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/information/welcome-medicare-customers-website

    People are treated in Australia , regardless of pre-existing conditions. The only problem I see with it is the bored and lonely abuse it to see Doctors for trivial things, which wastes money, and there is no photo ID on the “Medicare” card ( Doctors swipe it and get paid for services rendered from the Federal Government) so John Aziz or others can come to Australia and use someone’s card (Book into a new clinic where not recogised. I a) I am addressing this with my Federal politician. It could be a massive fraud. After having two carpal tunnel operations, specialists etc, with no photo ID checked, it is possible.

    • Systems have [designed within] several mechanisms to ensure their being ripped-off. Mostly, it is by the people who design the systems themselves [or those who are financing such], but, other people can also partake in the looting, as well, and are generally encouraged to do so, so as to create a handy diversion.

  10. impermanence | October 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm:

    ‘… Groups are what they are, and although people understand their need to be social, they have a very difficult time separating what they need from the group from what the group does to destroy their individuality [e.g, political systems, economic systems, “education,” etc.

    If mankind is to develop to a higher level then he must learn how to restore the “rights” of the individual within in the group. …’

    My suggestion would be to try to demystify the tendency to form groups, which I attribute to Evolutionary pressures. At present, certain groups are often held to be above judgement in the political, economic, moral, and other realms. But outside of immediate kinship, grouping is really just an appetite. Appetites may not make the kinds of gods we want.

    • It’s the Trojan Horse idea over and over again.

      You sell the time-released poison [mixed with caramel and nuts, coated with chocolate], a delivery system which satiates immediate desires at the cost of the organism’s protracted death [slow enough, in any case, to extract the maximum amount of labor-value earned].

      As long as there is an ego, there will be groups.

      • If we can stand far enough back (usually brought on by a crisis) and are lucky enough to watch our egos in operation…well, you just don’t get a better movie than that! All the twisting, turning, defending, justifications, lies we tell ourselves. It’s a pretty ugly sight actually, not one people want to watch for long.

        Paradoxically, it’s only when we stay with it, see all the ugly, that we begin to get a glimpse of the beautiful.

        In any system, in order to make it better, it seems the bad must precede the good; otherwise you wouldn’t know what you truly want, what’s most important.

        • The interesting thing is that with the dissolution of the ego, all these constructs disappear, along with all of your priorities and desires.

  11. Aziz – “I just think it’s completely insane that the Republicans are flirting with default…..”

    Karl Denninger said:

    “We are told that Congress “must” raise the debt ceiling or the government will not “meet its financial obligations.” The only obligation the government has is to pay the interest and principal on the existing debt, which incidentally is about 1/10th of the tax receipts. What this President wants is the ability to spend beyond the government’s ability to tax, which incidentally is exactly what Congress wants too. [...]

    Congress and Obama have had five years to “recover” from the previous recession which was caused by stealing in the first place via excessive credit creation. That recovery has failed on any objective measure you wish to use for anyone other than the top 1/10th of 1% of the nation’s wealthy, because this theft has taken your money and given it to them via propping up asset bubbles.

    Remember that Bernanke, along with Ryan with his faux “cut, cap and balance” budget proposal, claimed that we “must” balance the budget but not right now because the recovery was “too fragile.”

    Well, *******s, it’s five years down the road — when do you propose to shut the **** up and actually do it? When will you admit that your policies have prevented an economic recovery because you are hell-bent and determined to keep stealing from everyone so as to prop up that top 1/10th of 1% of the population — including yourselves?”

    http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=224979

  12. When you decimate a population by offshoring millions of jobs to Asia (in order to increase corporate profits), don’t be surprised when things backfire and people go on assistance because they don’t have a job. Without a job, they can’t consume and they don’t pay taxes.

    Bring back the jobs and you’ll restore the tax base. Continue to offshore jobs and there’ll be more debt ceiling crises.

    This is all about jobs.

    • Jobs.

      What a concept. Working for someone else is the worst idea anybody ever came up, and I believe even worse the than the guy [or maybe his wife] who thought I was a good idea to stray north or south from the heart of Africa [weather-wise :]!!

      If everybody worked for themselves, much of the difficulties mankind faces would be of a nature that it would be the responsibility of each individual to solve.

      • impermanence – “If everybody worked for themselves…..” Agree with you. I think I’ve stated ad nauseam that more jobs and endless growth is NOT what the world needs more of. I was just trying to say that, looking at the current system, one of the reasons they are having a debt crisis – one of the reasons – is because jobs have been offshored.

        But you are right, and deep down I believe that providing more jobs to produce more useless trinkets only serves to pull forward more population…and on and on it goes until the planet is crammed with more mouths to feed, fewer resources, and Fukushima-type solutions . Still, in some people’s minds, this is progress.

        Yes, taking responsibility for yourself and being good at what you do is the key.

  13. If you were to assume that Republicans are not socialists or communists then your article would be valid. But….well, you know the rest…

    • The Republicans believe in the ownership and control of the means of social production by the workers? Or in the equal distribution of the products thereof to one and all? When are they going to reveal this to the rest of us? And what are they going to do about it?

  14. Pingback: Too Big To Govern « Philosophy « PostLibertarian

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