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Note: This is part two of a three part series on ObamaCare.
How should we understand the ugly polling numbers for ObamaCare? It may be helpful to consider various groups of Americans in order to understand what they could find objectionable in ObamaCare.
Conservatives almost universally revile ObamaCare for a host of philosophical, constitutional, and practical reasons. Most conservatives believe that people do not have the right to be given things, even health care. If a person is given something, that “something” was necessarily taken from someone else. Moreover, conservatives believe that the individual mandate at the heart of the law is unconstitutional. The Constitution simply does not grant Congress the power to mandate that citizens purchase health insurance.
Finally, conservatives hold the view that government is wasteful, inefficient, and prone to fraud and corruption. All four of these problems have plagued Medicare, and expanding the government’s meddling in health care to encompass all Americans only threatens to dramatically increase the amount of waste, inefficiency, fraud, and corruption in government and health care.
Libertarians advocate an even more dramatic rolling back of government than conservatives. Therefore, the massive expansion of government that comes with ObamaCare is anathema to their entire political philosophy. They also worry about whether the individual mandate will lead to a slippery slope of government control in our lives. If the government can mandate that we purchase health insurance, what is to stop Congress from mandating that we purchase only healthy food, for example?
The basic idea underlying such a mandate is troubling. Laws typically regulate activity. They say that you can’t do something, such as assault a person, or purchase cocaine. For a law to regulate inactivity in such a way that you’re mandated to do something such as purchasing health insurance opens a Pandora’s box of potential government mandates in all areas of our lives.
Independents are often disgusted by the dirty procedural tricks and corrupt deals used to pass ObamaCare. Backroom wheeling and dealing was instrumental in its eventual passage, and the list of bribes and kickbacks is extensive. Do the Cornhusker Kickback, Gator Aid, Water for Votes, Dodd Clinic, or Louisiana Purchase ring any bells?
Moderate Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats generally oppose overt partisanship in Washington, and yet ObamaCare passed without a whiff of bipartisan support. Not a single Republican voted for the bill. The moderates and centrists of both parties may debate the merit of ObamaCare itself, but the complete lack of bipartisanship in the creation and passage of the young law likely goes against their sense of how government ought to operate on a fundamental level.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that a large majority of Americans want the Supreme Court to strike down part of all of ObamaCare, then. The center of American politics usually finds a way to make its voice heard eventually. This time, it might just be the courts doing the talking on its behalf.
Christians and especially Catholics are shocked by the Department of Health and Human Services’ contraception mandate. The contraception mandate is actually a regulation created by HHS and was not originally written into the ObamaCare bill. However, the broad authority to make such a regulation did come from the health reform law. The unchecked power of the regulatory state is something to be feared, and this controversy has opened the eyes of many Christians and Catholics. While the law still has Christian and Catholic supporters, many religious Americans have grown to appreciate the danger of granting the government too much power, and therefore want to roll back ObamaCare.
Progressives even have trouble with supporting ObamaCare. In their opinion, ObamaCare doesn’t go far enough, as they truly want a European-style single-payer system. Many progressives consider the individual mandate a massive giveaway to corporations, and they have a fair point. By mandating that everyone in the country purchase health insurance without simultaneously providing a “public option”, ObamaCare ensures a massive transfer of wealth from the citizenry to the health insurance industry. While some progressives may still reluctantly support the law as a “first step” toward a single-payer health care system, this isn’t the health care reform they wanted at all.
Well, who’s left?
Democrats are the strongest and most consistent supporters of ObamaCare. This is hardly a surprise, but it does go a long way toward explaining some of the polling on ObamaCare. According to the latest Gallup polling numbers, 30% of Americans consider themselves Democrats. Most of the aforementioned polling data shows that only about 25% to 30% of Americans consistently support ObamaCare and its attendant provisions, particularly the individual mandate.
However, according to another Gallup poll, only 24% of Americans believe that ObamaCare will make their health care situations better, and a mere 20% of Americans believe that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Why would these numbers be even lower than the 30% of self-identified Democrats in America?
Perhaps it would be helpful to distinguish between the regular Democrats and the Democratic Party loyalists. It isn’t much of a stretch to look at these numbers and come to the conclusion that the vast majority of support for ObamaCare is coming from those who affiliate themselves strongly with the Democratic Party. Certainly, most regular Democrats also support ObamaCare, but there appears to be a sizable minority of Democrats who do not support the law.
Furthermore, there is a difference between supporting and liking ObamaCare. Similar to progressives, many Democrats probably support the health reform law out of a sense of loyalty to their party and to President Obama, who they consider to be an exciting and transformational figure in American politics. So, while the large majority of Democrats support ObamaCare, it’s potentially true that only a smaller majority if not a minority truly like it. There are certainly elements of the law that they like, but overall, they aspired for more out of health reform and are supporting party over principle.
ObamaCare is, more or less, a law without a country.
Part I: Who Actually Likes ObamaCare?
Part III: How Do We End ObamaCare?