By Bob Cesca: The Supreme Court will be handing down its decision on the Affordable Care Act this week (for real this time) and all of the following might be moot if they end up ruling the law unconstitutional, but, once again, another poll has proved the ongoing thesis that the American people are highly confused and misinformed about the law.
We recently discussed how senior citizens are the biggest recipients of the ACA's provisions so far, with, right off the bat, more than 14 million of them taking advantage of the law's new preventative care coverage, while millions more are benefiting from the law's gradual closure of the Medicare Part-D donut hole that, heretofore, seniors had to pay for life-sustaining prescriptions out of their own pocket, and yet they're inexplicably against the law as well as the president who passed the law.
It doesn't make any sense, and the only thing that does make sense is the Springfield-Townspeople-from-The-Simpsons style contradictions and wildly self-defeating groupthink. We expect Americans to be ignoramuses, but not to this ridiculous extent.
And, oh yes, it gets worse.
Once again, as if torn from a script from The Simpsons, the American people are so horribly confused and flummoxed about the healthcare law, they actually seem more cartoonish and satirical than the legendary Matt Groening cartoon series. Shamefully so. The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll results about the ACA are embarrassing and incomprehensible.
Most Americans oppose President Barack Obama's healthcare reform even though they strongly support most of its provisions, Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Sunday, with the Supreme Court set to rule within days on whether the law should stand.
In other words, Americans hate the law, but they love everything in it.
Yep. Feel free to slam your head onto your desk, or smack your palm against your forehead or, hell, punch the person at desk next to you in the throat -- however you best emote complete exasperation with your fellow citizens, because these poll results illustrate everything that's wrong and Simpsons-ish with America right now.
While 56 percent of Americans hate the law, while a plurality of 45 percent of Americans will vote for a candidate who wants to repeal the law, a full 82 percent love the law's "pre-existing conditions" language. 61 percent support the section of the law that allows kids to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. 72 percent support requiring corporations to cover employees. And so forth.
On the other hand, the mandate is unpopular, but then again no one likes taxes either, and taxes are required for the government to protect the nation with an army; to maintain national parks; to make sure the air and water don't kill us; and to provide help to people who need it. The mandate is a fact of life. For universal healthcare to work, and especially for the very popular "pre-existing conditions" section to work (82 percent support!), there has to be a mandate, otherwise costs increase exponentially as freeloaders game the system -- only applying for coverage when they get sick or injured, then bailing when they're healthy.
You can't have roads without taxes, and you can't have affordable healthcare without requiring that everyone be involved. Besides, only a tenth of the population is uninsured anyway, so only a tenth of the population will be subject to the mandate. One out of every 10 citizens will be required to buy health insurance with significant government subsidies to make it affordable -- or free, depending on income level. And you know what? Tough noogies. If you have moral objections to buying corporate health insurance, then pay the ridiculously low tax penalty. If you don't want to pay the tax penalty, there's no enforcement mechanism in the law, so you'll get away with it. It's unethical, but you're the one who has to sleep at night. The secret is this: the mandate isn't really a mandate.
But most people don't know this. They don't know about a lot of things, because the people who wrote the law -- the Democrats, who borrowed old-school, pre-crazy Republican ideas like the mandate -- are totally failing to educate the public about how beneficial the law really is. Consequently, we get these inexplicably stupid poll results. People hear "Obamacare" and flip their shpadoinkle. But then they hear about what's in the bill, and their hearts swell and angels flutter around their heads. Those things sound wonderful! Weee! I wish they were in a healthcare reform bill!
I'm reminded of those narrowly-labeled ideological polls in which Gallup asks Americans whether they self-identify as conservative, moderate or liberal. Predictably, a plurality of Americans respond that they're conservative. Tough, reserved, stoic conservatives. But when they're asked about individual issue areas, they're totally liberal. They're pro-gun-control, pro-choice, pro-same-sex-marriage, pro-gays-in-the-military, pro-taxing-the-rich, pro-green-energy and so on.
It's all a matter of framing and labels. As with the systematic stigmatization of the word "liberal," the healthcare law has been so thoroughly demonized in name, the details that comprise the law have become irrelevant, just as if liberal ideas are disassociated with the word "liberal." Liberals, progressives and Democrats continue to lose the framing and messaging war, and this absolutely has to change. The proof is in the numbers. Americans want liberal legislation -- they just don't know it yet because it hasn't been sold to them correctly. It's really not entirely their fault either. It's the fault of piss-poor leadership. In absence of that leadership, good ideas die while under assault from people who know how to sell their own shitty ideas -- no matter how awful or cynical.