The Health Care Summit Worked

Bill Scher

There were two ways last month’s health care summit could have been a success.

Republican leaders actually would support legislation that incorporated some of their ideas.

Or, in the far more likely event that the GOP continued it’s full-court obstructionist press, the public would recognize that reform would only pass if Democrats acted alone, and would urge Dems to forge ahead.

And that’s exactly what is happening.

The New Republic’s John Judis spotted a significant poll shift after the summit:

…in the first poll conducted after the summit on February 25, Ipsos/McClatchy found that those who favor versus those who oppose “the health care reform proposals presently being discussed,” went from 37 to 51 percent in late January to 41 to 47 percent. That’s an eight point swing.

More significant still, while Republicans overwhelmingly oppose the proposals by 75 to 18 percent, Independents favor them by 43 to 41 percent. And among the 47 percent who oppose the reform proposals 37 percent do so because they “don’t go far enough.” That suggests that many of the 24 percent of Democrats and some of the independents who oppose the proposals do so because they don’t go far enough. These respondents would presumably be open to persuasion, and could create a solid majority in favor of health care reform.

So the president’s effort to dramatize the issue has had results…

Similiarly, pollster Geoff Garin is seeing in his focus groups a frustrated public demanding action following the summit. Politico reported:

“Four weeks ago, it was an open question, whether or not the best thing to do was just to abandon [health care reform] and move on. But the picture is changing,” says veteran Democratic pollster Geoff Garin, who has been conducting health care focus groups for a range of Democrat-affiliated clients around the country in recent weeks.

“What I’m finding in the focus groups is that, however skeptical voters are of health reform, they’re now saying just go ahead and pass it just to get something done,” added Garin, one of the first Democratic strategists to warn of a potential anti-reform wave last year.

Four weeks ago was before the summit put GOP obstruction in the spotlight.

And last week’s grotesque obstructionist display by GOP Sen. Jim Bunning that led to unemployment insurance being cut off surely put an exclamation on the point.

Skittish Dems have been worried that passing comprehensive health care reform on a party-line vote would look bad.

But the opposite is true. What will look bad is being in charge and doing nothing to solve the problems you said would solve.

If Dems in Congress were worried the public wasn’t getting the message about Republican obstruction, worry no more. And finish the job.

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