USA Today Pairs Bad News in Obamacare Poll With Blame for Republicans; Compares Them to Antebellum Slave States

James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal denounced Susan Page of USA Today as “preposterous” for claiming the unpopularity of Obamacare can be blamed on Republicans pressing for its repeal.

Page began: “Republican lawmakers have failed in dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but a new USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll shows just how difficult they have made it for President Obama's signature legislative achievement to succeed.” Page even turned to Thomas Mann, a fire-breathing hater of Republicans, to compare them to slave-owning Southern states before the Civil War:

As the health care exchanges at the heart of the law open for enrollment in two weeks, the public's views of it are as negative as they have ever been, and disapproval of the president's handling of health care has hit a new high. Confusion and misinformation about the law haven't significantly abated, especially among the law's main targets.

There has been a full-court press from Day One from the opposition to characterize and demonize the plan," says Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution, who wrote about the GOP efforts in a 2012 book about Washington he co-authored, It's Even Worse Than It Looks. "The campaign against the law after it was enacted, the range of steps taken, the effort to delegitimize it — it is unprecedented. We'd probably have to go back to the nullification efforts of the Southern states in the pre-Civil War period to find anything of this intensity."

Taranto asked “where does Page get the idea that Republican lawmakers are the ones who have made it difficult for ObamaCare to succeed? That claim is not only unsupported but unsupportable. We'd go so far as to say it's preposterous on its face.” He pointed out that “ObamaCare has lacked broad public support from its inception in 2009, when there were not enough Republican lawmakers to stop it from being enacted. The Republican House majority is an effect of ObamaCare, not the other way around.”

He noted a few paragraphs later, Page admitted as much: "When Obama signed the law more than three years ago, supporters predicted Americans would embrace it as some of the most popular provisions went into effect, including measures that have helped seniors pay prescription costs, protected children who have serious medical conditions and enabled young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans until age 26. But that turnaround in public opinion hasn't happened, at least not yet."

The news wasn’t good for Obamacare advocates:

53% disapprove of the health care law, the highest level since it was signed; 42% approve. By an even wider margin, intensity favors the opposition; 41% of those surveyed strongly disapprove while just 26% strongly approve. Fifty-three percent disapprove of Obama's handling of health care policy, an historic high. And Democrats have lost their traditional advantage on the issue. For the first time in polling that stretches back more than two decades, Americans narrowly prefer Republicans in dealing with health care policy, 40%-39%,

Nevertheless, the Democrats keep saying Obamacare is still gaining acceptance, like Dan Quayle:

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, says voters eventually will appreciate officials who are now "scrambling" to implement the law and create state exchanges that work. "It's been politically popular to be against the Affordable Care Act," he says. "My prediction is it's going to be much less popular when constituents understand that your political posturing is costing them affordable health care."

Page reported that Vermont (like other states) is aggressively pushing Obamacare in radio and TV ads, but fails to note these are paid for by federal taxpayers. Those fiendish “nullifying” Republicans aren’t getting government grants to push the opposing view.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis