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Clinton Pollster: Polls Show Health Reform Could Fail Again

The New Republic, under the leadership of Jonathan Cohn, has been the number one cheerleader for health care reform writ large.

His repeated exhortations for reform has had a similar effect to Paul Krugman of the NYT on the Democratic Party.

It is why this article from the New Republic is oh, so very, very important.

Stanley Greenberg was the pollster who lead the Democratic Party down the lose-56-seats-in-the-U.S.-House path of the spectacular failure of Hillary-care. OK, that is probably an overstatement, but, his polls had a whole lot to do with the Democratic Party pushing all their chips onto the table on Health Care Reform last time around.

Greenberg dusted off his memos to President Clinton and the poll questions he asked back then, and asked them again, now.

In an OH NO MR. BILL moment, the worst case scenario to the polling questions happened again, as Greenberg writes:

“Perhaps I should know better than to have sensed any profound changes in the country. And, when I got the results for the new survey, I looked at each question warily, remembering how it all went badly wrong. As I reached the last of the questions, I exclaimed: “Oh no. It can’t be. Nothing’s changed.”

There is no way to get veteran status, unless you have gone through battle. You cannot buy veteran status, you cannot train for it, you have to live it.

Taking the advice of veteran health care warriors is probably a good idea, and it why what Greenberg has to say next is important, when considering the future of health care reform in Congress:

It may surprise you that Obama has already lost seniors, according to our current survey–only one-third approve of his plan. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see there isn’t much in it for them. There is already talk of carving out major savings from Medicare and, unlike during Clinton’s battle, no offer of a new drug benefit. Clearly, they need to see health care gains for themselves too.

One would have expected union households to be among the most enthusiastic supporters of Clinton’s health reforms, but they held back. Resentment over NAFTA played a part, for sure. But the reforms also had uncertain benefits for their members, most of whom already had health care–many with the kind of “Cadillac” plans that Clinton’s team speculated about taxing. In the end, unions never seriously mobilized their members or financed advertising to defend reform.

Today, the unions are battered and divided and deeply affected by the changes in health care and employment that are propelling the country toward reform. With few illusions about the old system, union households are strong supporters of Obama’s proposal. Yet the members will ultimately judge whether the plan is good for their families–and I’m certain that all the talk about taxing insurance contributions has not gone unnoticed.

Unions are shifting their feet, uncertain about Obama’s health care plan, and seniors are already at: don’t finance the uninsured by cutting Medicare.

So while the media-worship continues of Obamacare, seniors are at no. And Stanley Greenberg, a gray beard with battle scars, is trying to warn the Democratic Party.

The Latinos have a saying: “I am coming back from where you are going.”

It would be really wise to listen to Greenberg — because a miscalculation on health care will cost the Democratic Party seats in 2010, 56 last time around.

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