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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What sort of public option do people polled by ABC-WAPO Think is more important than bipartisan compromise ?

An almost new and interesting result reported by ABC and the Washington Post is that the people who were polled care more about something related to the content of the bill than about a bipartisan vote. Many previous polls reported majorities who said Democrats should compromise to get a bipartisan support for the bill. However, only a Daily Kos poll asked about a specific possible compromise (with the result that a majority opposed making that concession to Republicans). Now it is clear that asking about bipartisan compromise in the abstract is silly -- for one thing all of the questions assume it is possible to get to yes with Republicans most of whom are determined to get to no.

I think that a common interpretation of the result overstates the result. The question is "51 percent, would prefer a plan that included some form of government insurance for people who cannot get affordable private coverage even if it had no GOP support in Congress. "

The qualifier "for people who cannot get affordable private coverage" is important to people in the sample (as shown by responses to other question in this poll). No public option proposal has such a pointless restriction which is popular among people who don't say yes to a plain sensible public option which aims to drive insurance premia down via competition.

Frankly, I'd say the response in the poll means that most of the polled people would tell the Democrats not to scrap Medicaid if that were the Republican's demand to say yes. Good as far as it goes, but it doesn't mean most of them agree with those of us who say give the Republicans nothing (unless Snowe demands less than Nelson or Landrieux or Lieberman).

Fortunately, in politics it is politicians perceptions of public opinion that matter (just as in elections it is public perceptions of policy that matter) so I think it would be best for the USA if people didn't make the point I just made. I don't worry about political implications of what I write here, because alsmost no one reads this blog.

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