We've seen I think no shortage of really bad arguments against health care reform. Arguments against, in my humble opinion, ought to take one of two forms: attack the facts (honestly), or criticize (honestly) the inferences drawn thereupon. Looking around the op-ed pages one finds precious little of that. This is either because the authors don't know how to do this (likely) or they're too lazy or dishonest to try (more likely). Maybe, however, they don't think they'd be successful (maybe likely).
Having said that, I was pleased to read this on a left-leaning blog (Political Animal):
When it comes to reform opponents pushing back against polls showing support for a public option, they have some credible options to choose from.
Conservatives could, for example, argue that there's still some confusion about the policy details, so the poll results should be taken with a grain of salt. That's not unreasonable. They could also argue that the public has simply embraced a bad idea, and that what it popular is not always right. That, too, is a plausible approach.
Simply pretending that the polls don't exist, however, is far more annoying.
See, it's really not very hard to have a meaningful discussion.
5 thoughts on “It’s not so hard”
Good points, John!
However, sometime it matters what poll data you look at. Here are the latest polls on Health Care: 47.8% oppose it, 44.9% favor it
… that looked better when I entered it. From now on I should use the Preview button
“sometime it matters what poll data you look at.”
Indeed, BN. And when it comes to polling, we’re often shown poor or downright misleading indicators of public interest.
For example, take the actual PDF report from the October 16-18 CNN poll*. The 47.8/44.9 is based on a question I personally think is terrible “From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama’s plan to reform health care?”. I don’t even know what that plan is**, so despite being inclined to side with the president, I can’t truthfully say I favor his plan. To me it seems the question is asking about what hearsay you listen to, and effectively determines what your bias is.
Look a little further down and you’ll find a figure you won’t see any proud Republican mention. When asked “Who do you trust more to handle major changes in the country’s health care system – Barack Obama or the Republicans in Congress?”, you get 50% trusting Obama compared to 34% trusting congressional Republicans. Think about that when you listen to Republicans claim the president is destroying America.
Most relative these days though is question #23: “Now thinking specifically about the health insurance plans available to most Americans, would you favor or oppose creating a public health insurance option administered by the federal government that would compete with plans offered by private health insurance companies?”. On that 61% are in favor, with 38% opposed. That’s your 60 votes in the senate.
Polling can be a terrible tool in the hands of political hacks. From selective reading to push-polling, there are many many ways in which the truth can be skewed into whatever spin can advance one’s ideology.
* The accuracy of which is certainly debatable, I’m just commenting on which numbers were taken from it to produce a negative view.
** I’ve read a few pages of it, so despite my admission of ignorance, I’m likely still in the top 5% of most informed citizens.
(apologies on the formatting of my own post. the preview button didn’t work on mine. Google Chrome 18.104.22.168)
Michael, I guess that was John’s point: never ignore the facts (whatever they might be).
As far as polling goes, there are many factors that can get you different results. Here is an example:
Pew: As of right now, do you generally favor or generally oppose the health care proposals being discussed in Congress?
Date Range: 9/10-15/09 Pop.: 1006 A Favor: 42 Oppose:44 Undecided: 14
CNN: From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama’s plan to reform health care?
Date Range:9/11-13/09 Pop.: 1012A Favor: 51 Oppose:46 Undecided: 3
That’s 9% difference for favoring the Healthcare reform plan. Why is that? CNN makes a reference to Obama in their question whereas Pew doesn’t. Other polls show that the public trusts Obama more than the Congress . So, it makes a huge difference it it’s Obama’s plan or the Congress’ plan. Now, which one is more accurate? Is this really Obama’s plan or the Congress? Is it 60% – 40%? Is it 80%-20%? Personally, I find it silly to call it Obama’s plan. He might have some suggestions, but at this point it’s all in the congress’ hands.
Anyway, back to the overall point: while facts do not change, they do have to be challenged.
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