Friday, March 05, 2010

Poll deception

Charles Krauthammer takes on an annoying argument that the Democrats have been spouting. They keep saying that polls show that the American people like every element of their program so it really is popular. They just leave out the question of cost. When cost is added or when people are asked about the whole shebang and start thinking about how it's going to be paid for, suddenly they're not so favorable to the Democrats' plans.
Unfortunately for Democrats, that seven-hour televised exercise had the unintended consequence of showing the Republicans to be not only highly informed on the subject, but also, as even Obama was forced to admit, possessed of principled objections -- contradicting the ubiquitous Democratic/media meme that Republican opposition was nothing but nihilistic partisanship.

Republicans did so well, in fact, that in his summation, Obama was reduced to suggesting that his health-care reform was indeed popular because when you ask people about individual items (for example, eliminating exclusions for preexisting conditions or capping individual out-of-pocket payments), they are in favor.

Yet mystifyingly they oppose the whole package. How can that be?

Allow me to demystify. Imagine a bill granting every American a free federally delivered ice cream every Sunday morning. Provision 2: steak on Monday, also home delivered. Provision 3: a dozen red roses every Tuesday. You get the idea. Would each individual provision be popular in the polls? Of course.

However (life is a vale of howevers) suppose these provisions were bundled into a bill that also spelled out how the goodies are to be paid for and managed -- say, half a trillion dollars in new taxes, half a trillion in Medicare cuts (cuts not to keep Medicare solvent but to pay for the ice cream, steak and flowers), 118 new boards and commissions to administer the bounty-giving, and government regulation dictating, for example, how your steak is to be cooked. How do you think this would poll?

Perhaps something like 3 to 1 against, which is what the latest CNN poll shows is the citizenry's feeling about the current Democratic health-care bills.

Late last year, Democrats were marveling at how close they were to historic health-care reform, noting how much agreement had been achieved among so many factions. The only remaining detail was how to pay for it.

Well, yes. That has generally been the problem with democratic governance: cost. The disagreeable absence of a free lunch.
Reality. What a bummer. Where is that reality-based community these days?