It's no secret that the most loathsome character in the extraordinarily loathsome U.S. House of Representatives is Rep. Steve Stockman (R-TX). In case you're not aware of Stockman, he's the first term congressman from Ron Paul's former district in Texas who invited Ted Nugent to the State of the Union and who produced a bumper sticker calling for the arming of fetuses to prevent abortions (a not-so-veiled statement about killing abortion doctors).
It's also no secret that this week was perhaps one of the most dismal polling weeks for members of Congress. The polling has been so horrendous it led bipartisan pollsters for both NBC News and the Wall Street Journal to refer to Thursday's numbers as "jaw-dropping."
In spite of the harrowing numbers, including ones that suggested dog poop and hemorrhoids are better than Congress, Mr. Stockman tweeted this:
"57% of Americans oppose ObamaCare. @BarackObama and @TheDemocrats call them 'terrorists' and refuse to open the government."
Let's do the second part first. I've never heard the president refer to Americans as "terrorists," and the only Americans who some congressional Democrats have compared to terrorists are the congressional Republicans. But, naturally, the House Republicans only make up around 0.00007 percent of the American population. So right there, Mr. Stockman is just making things up.
Now the first part. Mr. Stockman tweeted that 57 percent of Americans oppose Obamacare. He didn't provide a link, so I initially didn't know what poll he was referring to. But I looked it up and, sure enough, Stockman was right. It's from a CNN poll released on October 1. And since Mr. Stockman seems to enjoy quoting poll numbers, let's give him some poll numbers to tweet.
-In the same CNN poll, only 34 percent of Americans want Congress to de-fund Obamacare.
-In the latest NBC News & Wall Street Journal poll, released hours after Stockman's tweet, the Affordable Care Act is only seen unfavorably by 43 percent of Americans -- this after two weeks of filibusters, demagoguery and an amplified misinformation campaign against the law.
-Also in the NBC/WSJ poll, Stockman's tea party has an approval rating of 21 percent. The congressional Republicans didn't fare much better with an approval of 24 percent.
-Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), a member of Stockman's Texas delegation, has an approval rating of 14 percent. Speaker Boehner's approval is slightly better at 17 percent.
-Comparatively, the dreaded Obamacare law has an approval rating of 38 percent, gaining seven points from last month. In other words, Obamacare is significantly more popular than the Speaker of the House, the congressional Republicans, Ted Cruz and Stockman's tea party caucus.
What's holding the "Obamacare" numbers down? It makes perfect sense that it's not as popular as it should be. First, the Republicans have been engaged in a coordinated, well-financed campaign to demonize it since 2009. Secondly, as we've observed, the word "Obamacare" has been so thoroughly stigmatized that many (uninformed) people reject it based on the pejorative title alone. But what happens when voters are polled on various aspects of the law?
-In a 2012 poll, 80 percent of Republicans -- yes, Republicans -- like the idea of health insurance marketplaces, also known as "exchanges."
-Likewise, 57 percent of Republicans like the idea of the government helping to pay the cost of premiums via insurance subsidies.
-54 percent of Republicans like the employer mandate -- the same mandate which the congressioanl Republicans almost universally oppose, including Mr. Stockman.
Should I go on?
-78 percent of Republicans support the ban on denying insurance to people with pre-existing conditions.
-This one is an eye-opener. 29 percent of Republicans think Obamacare "doesn't go far enough."
The only aspect of Obamacare that Republican voters dislike is the individual mandate. But I'm sure they'd feel differently if they were informed that Republicans invented the mandate. Richard Nixon, in his 1974 "Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan," proposed to make it mandatory for businesses to provide health insurance for all full-time employees. In 1989, a document called "Assuring Affordable Health Care for All Americans" was drafted by Stuart Butler. In it, Butler proposed the idea of an individual mandate. I should note that Butler was a Distinguished Fellow and Director for the Center for Policy Innovation at the conservative Heritage Foundation. In the early 1990s, Republicans such as Bob Dole, Newt Gingrich, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Richard Lugar and Alan Simpson proposed a counter-measure to Hillary Clinton's healthcare proposal. The GOP legislation contained an individual mandate and government subsidies.
On second thought, I'd like to correct that thing I wrote about how the individual mandate is the only aspect of Obamacare that Republicans (suddenly) dislike. They mainly dislike the "Obama" part of the word "Obamacare." And that's the point of this little exercise. The dissatisfaction with, and outright hatred of Obamacare has little to do with the law itself. It has everything to do with the president who proposed it and who shepherded it through Congress. If that president had been named "Bush" or "Reagan" or even, heaven forbid, "McCain" or "Romney," Republicans would be demanding, "Keep your government hands off my Dubyacare!"
As for Stockman, I suppose the silver lining is that he wastes so much time on Twitter instead of, you know, legislating.