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Cocoon Alert: WaPo on Obamacare

For the most part, the cocoon spinners—those who weave those cozy refuges where liberals can snooze undisturbed by nasty developments in the outside world—seem to work at the New York Times. But a story in today’s Washington Post on the Supreme Court’s upcoming decision on Obamacare shows that there are cocoon spinners in the nation’s capital as well. The Post piece manages to tiptoe delicately around the fact that most voters hate the law and would like to see all or part of it overturned. (Recent polls show that 68 percent of voters oppose Obamacare.) Here’s how the Post characterized the state of play:

Although polls show that Americans are stubbornly divided over the measure, parts of it remain very popular and many Democrats and Republicans agree that something must be done to rein in ballooning health-care costs.

This is an extremely charitable description of Obamacare’s favorability. When more than two-thirds of the country opposes a law, American’s aren’t “stubbornly divided”; they’re against it.

This kind of misleading reporting gives otherwise respectable papers a bad name.

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  • thibaud

    Talk about misleading: in fact, over 80% of the public favors ending the health insurance company scam regarding denial of benefits for their made-up notion of a “pre=existing condition.”

    This core feature of Obamacare brings to an end (at least it will, beginning in 2014) that national scandal which the GOP steadfastly refused, year after year, to do anything about. Despite its half-arsed approach and many flaws, Obamacare is at least addressing this.

    Better than even odds that Chief Justice Roberts will signal to the Obama admin, by narrowly striking down the mandate only, that we should use the tax code to expand coverage and move toward the only rational approach to expanding the risk pool and reining in costs, ie the public option.

  • Luke Lea

    How do the American people know they don’t like it when they haven’t seen it yet?

  • ms

    Well, we all know that those who don’t agree with us are “stubborn.”

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    It’s not just the biased reporting in the leftist Main Stream Media, NBC finally mentioned the Fast & Furious gun walking scandal after ignoring it all year, they spent a whole 30 seconds on it. So, they are not reporting even more than they are spinning what they do report. The Washington Post recently reported the 7 point win by Scott Walker in Wisconsin a “close vote”, had the winner been the Democrat they would have called it a landslide.

  • Kenny

    This is why the liberal media and Democrats were clueless on their pending wipe out in 2010. There is no self-criticism.

    The left is apt to get blindsided again in 2012 because they actually believe their own propaganda.

  • Corlyss

    “there are cocoon spinners in the nation’s capital as well.”

    This is news to . . . ?

  • Stephen M. St. Onge

    “Otherwise respectable papers” is a joke. The WaPo, the NYT and all the rest are united in their determination to rule. They didn’t “tiptoe delicately around the fact that most voters hate the law and would like to see all or part of it overturned”, they flat out lied about it.

  • Lorenz Gude

    By and large I think Washington and the media are deep in denial, while interestingly governors of both parties can do arithmetic. Even governor moonbeam recently fessed up that CA was way more in debt that previously advertised. So the governor of the state in the worst mess who is neither temperamentally nor politically in a position to do much about it can name the elephant in the room.In DC they are still drinking their own Koolaid in this case mixed up by the WaPo.

  • Frank Bonthron

    Good article, but I think Mr. Mead’s reference to the Washington Post as an otherwise respectable newspaper is an extremely charitable description. Like the NY Times, their obvious bias makes them little more than a subsidiary of the Democratic Pary.

  • http://realclearpolitics bob anderson

    This article by Wa Po reveals just the latest in thousands of articles indicating liberal bias,liberal prejudice and liberal blindness how is it that prof. Mead just took notice?

  • Ex Journalist

    Fortunately, the Post hasn’t been “otherwise respectable” since sometime in the 1960’s (if then).

  • Renfield

    Is it any wonder that the legacy newspapers are in quicksand up to their chins?

    When mobs of black thugs under age 25 attack whites at a county fair or an upscale shopping venue, the papers inform us about the “rambunctious teens.” And when the racial element is too large and obvious to ignore, the papers report that there were some “racial clashes” (maybe among “bitterly divided” groups).

    But “otherwise respectable papers,” Walter? Gimme a break. I would trust the WaPo and the Times for last night’s baseball scores, but that’s about it.

  • casual observer

    The WaPo article along with comments like @thibaud here are further evidence that the entire bill is a disaster with only portions of it meaningful. But rather than act in a practical way, the Dems in unison, and without any bipartisan support, created an overreaching, expensive, nearly unworkable behemoth of a bill that is now reviled by many. That it is so gargantuan in scope, and that so many pieces of it are unacceptable to many, means the entire bill suffers the same image – and it is unwelcome by the public. And when the WaPo uses distortion to describe that lack of acceptance, and when the minority like @thibaud isolate a piece to represent the entire act for its favor, you know it is a mess.

    This bill is not the best or even the better solution, and two thirds of the electorate know that. There are many better solutions out there.

  • Renfield

    @casual observer. Your point about the bill being ultimately unworkable is well taken. (You also dispose succinctly of Thibaud’s argument, which is akin to, “Although Castro made the richest Caribbean nation into the poorest, he raised the literacy level!”)

    The ACA (Obamacare) is hopelessly complex, contradictory, and expensive. It is unworkable in the real world, and will inevitably collapse of its own weight. If it somehow makes it past the Supreme Court, it will be progressively modified, revised, added to, subtracted from, and then eventually gutted, defunded, and castrated.

    The only question is, How much trouble does it cause, and how much money does it waste, until it dies? Let’s hope the Supreme Court puts Obamacare out of its misery within the next two weeks. They don’t even have to kill the entire hydra: just one of the heads (the mandate) will do it.

  • Vic Morrow

    Why is the WaPost an “otherwise respectable paper?” The evidence for that NOT being the case is overwhelming. I refer particularly to their ignoring the very real corruption within this administration.

  • Stephanie Sharf

    Liberals cannot be challenged in any way. I once offered an anti-Obama book to a liberal friend and she took one look at the cover and jumped away shaking her head like I had tried to hand her a lit firecracker. I have been yelled at that I am a “racist” (at the same time that I was dating a black boyfriend) at a public event when I said I was a Tea Partier. Any challenge seems to provoke some kind of hissy fit.

  • Lieven

    Two thirds against? Who is spinning a cocoon right now? I don’t think I’ve seen a single poll that shows 2/3 of Americans against. It’s usually slightly more than 50%. Some are close to the mid to high 50’s. Then there are polls where a slight plurality is in favor, like for example the Reuters Ipsos polls. The idea that 2/3 are against the law is not borne out by any shred of data, so coming in a piece where you talk about “spinning a cocoon” it seems like that’s exactly what you are doing when you base an argument on imaginary numbers.

  • Jean Baudrillard

    It is a sad day when insurance companies (read: other insurance purchasers) not being forced to pay for pre-existing conditions is a “scam”. Why not also force auto insurance companies to pay for pre-existing crash damage? Why not give any $50,000 or more product away free to anyone who will pay a few hundred dollars a month?

  • preposterous

    I can’t remember… between the NYT and the Po, which one is Pravda and which one is Izvestia?

    It’s become really hard to tell anymore.

  • Chris

    One of the worst things about Obamacare is that they tried to “fix” everything. The meaning of “fix” also includes “freezing in place”. What did they freeze or try to freeze in place? Price levels, the use of insurance for *everything*, the total disconnect between healthcare consumers and those paying the bill, the patient’s dependency on the employer, and the idea that government is the sole arbiter of what is or is not healthcare. Another thing they froze in place is the incentive for the healthcare industry to lobby for special favors, since now the federal government will be in charge of nearly every technical and financial detail of the provision of healthcare. Expect a lot more corruption.
    As if those things were not bad enough, the way the law was written was with a lot of “to-be-determined by the Secretary” elements. What is or is not a “preventive service”? Well, we have to ask the Secretary of HHS. We’ll ask her after the President of the United States takes a poll during his re-election campaign, then tells the Secretary what to say. For the pro-ACA people who think this is fine, wait until the White House changes hands and the policy you liked is “being reviewed” by Karl Rove and President Rubio. This is bad government, in its most obvious form.

  • Denny

    Dr. Mead,
    Although I think that your blog is among the very few political writings these days that is actually worth reading, I do see the point of those who tend to disagree with the mildness of your language. That mildness is, however, necessary in order to have a chance to get access to others than those who agree with you anyway.
    In re the “preexisting conditions” issue. Both the solution offered by Obama-care and the public option essentially remove insurance from health care by making removing the risk taking that is conceptually essential. (Thus insurance will be insurance in name only.) However, an act that would remove the insurance companies ability to change coverage parameters upon illness provided only that the person be insured at the time of the onset of the illness but would allow to refuse coverage for illness or condition for which, at the time of onset, the person was not insured, would resolve this problem. It would create a powerful incentive for young and healthy people to get insured. I wonder why this obvious measure has never been discussed in any health care debates (as far as I can tell). I also wonder, what do you think about this.

  • SkipG

    @preposterous: As an old Kremlin watcher I can assure you there’s no truth in Pravda and no news in Izvestiya, so it doesn’t matter.

  • Mike Petrik

    Without a pre-existing condition rule, why wouldn’t everyone just wait till they’re seriously ill to buy insurance? Have you thought this through? Do you think that can work? Seriously?

  • BruceM

    An example of the mind, should I say the “feelings” of the liberal occurred before the 2008 election. I was having a strictly economic discussion with a co-worker, who happened to agree with me. The nice liberal lady walking by us, all of a sudden, got beet red and started screaming “what if your daughter was raped, would you make her have the baby”. We were discussing supply and demand? Strange.

  • Foobarista

    This is how popularity spinning is done.

    Let’s consider something called the “National Instant Weight Loss Act”. It allows every adult to lose 30 to 60 pounds instantly.

    When asked about the law, 99% of people polled replied favorably. But the fine print, known only to the surgeon’s lobby and its pet congresspeople, required that everyone’s left leg be amputated. Add to that, Congress, employees of government agencies, and various preferred groups got waivers.

  • thibaud

    Yes, the bill’s a mess, but not for the reasons that the know-nothings here advocate. It’s a mess because it doesn’t include the logical, simple, direct resolution, which is a universal, public option supplemented by private insurance purchasable across state lines.

    The big joke here is that the bill’s unpopularity is in part due to opposition from the LEFT: ie, from knowledgeable people who see that our Rube Goldberg system is deeply screwed-up and can’t be reformed.

    The bill does not curb the power of the health insurance mafia, that industry that adds next to no value, inflates costs, arbitrarily denies benefits to hundreds of thousands of deserving families annually for no other reason than it can.

    The bill does not sever the link between employment and health insurance, thereby causing a huge drag on private sector hiring and putting our global corporates at a significant cost disadvantage – which further accelerates the trend toward offshoring of jobs.

    The bill uses a clumsy and arguably unconstitutional kludge, a mandate, to do what changes to the tax code – by for ex. removing deductibility of health insurance costs + offsetting this with taxes to pay for a public option – could have easily done.

    Why so? Why leave these bizarre features in place?

    The answer’s obvious: All to placate one of the most corrupt and useless industries in America, the one whose administrative bloat ensures that we spend on healthcare many times more, for worse results, per capita than any of our peer nations does.

    They OPPOSE this half-hearted, half-arsed, contradictory and tepid reform because it doesn’t address the fundamental flaws in our ridiculous kludge of a non-system.

    As with Gorbachev’s baby steps toward reforming the command economy of the USSR, you can’t do a half-reform of our health insurance monster. We will either move inexorably toward a public option, or the current kludge will bankrupt us.

  • valwayne

    Even though the WP has a liberal slant I’ve liked and respected the paper unlike the NYT which has decended well below tabloid level. However, I lost that respect after that absurd 45 year old story about a teenage Romney snipping the long hair of another teenage boy who later turned out to be gay. The WP is clearly fully onboard Obama’s reelection team until after the relection and journalism is out hte window until then.

  • russ in nc

    As for Obamacare, I like the stuff I get for free, like being a dependent child until age 27, but I don’t like the stuff I have to pay for. So I’ll vote for the guy that promises me free stuff.

  • thibaud

    This post is yet more spin from that mother lode of misinformation, Via Meadia.

    The two gold standard, nonpartisan polling organizations in this country for domestic opinion on social and political issues are Gallup and the Pew Foundation. Both of them show majorities in favor of the ACA as recently as this spring.

    Here’s Gallup on the popularity of ACA, from Feb 2012:

    “Do you think it is a good thing or a bad thing that Congress passed this law?”

    Good thing 45%
    Bad thing 44%

    Here’s Pew, from March 2012:

    Do you approve or disapprove of the healthcare legislation passed by Barack Obama and Congress in 20120?

    Approve 47%
    Disapprove 45%

    And then we have that inconvenient fact that all the objective, non-partisan polling data we have indicates that significant majorities of Americans polled support the public option.

    Which is why a significant share of those who oppose the stupid giveaway to the health insurance companies, ie the individual mandate, are IN FAVOR of the rational solution, the only real reform, which is the public option.

    The majorities in favor of the public option when the polling firm makes it clear that – contrary to the GOP’s nonsense and FUD on this subject – this would not entail the government’s “setting up a new program,” ie, that the public option could be implemented rapidly, simply and efficiently by simply expanding Medicare to the entire US population.

    For those who want to get out of their partisan cocoons, here’s Nate Silver’s expert, independent analysis of Americans’ attitudes toward the public option, from 2009:

    Nate Silver ranks each of six polls according to their methodology and rigor, sampling, and especially, the clarity and objectivity of their wording and answer choices.

    He finds the following – Nate Silver:

    “Summary: The only poll I have a particularly high degree of confidence in is the Kaiser Family Foundation poll, which finds that between 65 AND 68 PRECENT OF THE PUBLIC SUPPORT A PUBLIC OPTION depending on how the question is phrased.

    “The only thing I would change about their poll is to specify, as the bipartisan Peter Hart/Bill McInturf NBC/WSJ does, that the public plan would be administered by the government.

    “The other polls have one or more characteristics that give me pause about them. The question wording in the Consumers Union’ poll is push-y and explicitly partisan; the question wording in the Rasmussen and Lake/HCAN polls is strange and probably implicitly partisan.”

    /end excerpt

    Nate Silver also praises the bipartisan Peter Hart (D)/ Bill McInturf (R) NBC/WSJ poll in 2009 which found that 76 PRECENT SUPPORTED THE PUBLIC OPTION, ie considered it either “important” or “extremely important … to give people a choice of both a public plan administered by the federal government and a private plan for their health insurance.”

  • jschmidt

    Wait till October and the story will be the majority of people love Obamacare. Rewriting history and lying are great hobbies of the media when it comes to Oabam.

  • Charles Curtis

    Let’s recognize Obamacare for what it really is, the act of an out of control bully of a president who cares little for the rule of law and the will of the people. It should go down as OBULLYCARE! With all this talk about bullying, lets recognize that Obama is the biggest one on the block.

  • Laura J.

    Thibaud, you’re hilarious! Do you write your own stuff or does the White House Communications staff write it for you?

    /not buying


    Nate Silver? Are you seriously putting his name forward as non-partisan? Wow. Cocoon alert!

  • Ojay

    How could anyone vote for this not knowing what was in it ? The bill was passed by bribes, closed door deals and midnight votes. “We need to pass this bill to find out what is in it” Pelosi said.
    Totally insane.

  • Molly Pitcher

    Democrats already traded American’s right to worship freely for some free pills.

    what’s to say they wouldn’t trade our right to free speech for free pizza every Thursday night?

    Over 93% of people approve of free pizza.

  • Mkelley

    I usually discount opinion polls, but Scott Ra
    smussen polled likely voters on Obamacare:

  • Michael

    Dear Dr. Mead,
    This is one of your posts that I don’t just disagree with. It is factually wrong- hopelessly wrong at every single level. I have never seen a poll that indicated 2/3 of Americans were against this law. Not EVER. And, even if I did, I’ve seen so many other polls speaking to a “divided” electorate as to dismiss that poll as “statistical noise”. I would request that you either post the long string of polls that show a change in how this law has polled, or you pull this fatuous nonsense down, with the requisite apology to your readers and the WaPo, whom you seem to have needlessly maligned.

    Of course, I would also say that looking at the comments is sickening. Nothing is more pathetic than the whining persecution complex of white conservative mainstream America. They seem to prefer, rather than engaging with sources that challenge their points of view, to scream and run away to the consolations offered by or Redstate. Kind of like the “emotional” liberals they so vehemently decry. This post just shows the most unflattering side of conservative thought.

  • tao9

    “Nothing is more pathetic than the whining persecution complex of white conservative mainstream America.”

    See, here’s the problem. How instructive and giving of Mr. Michael to identify his own personal macguffin.

    He just does not like the people who pay for and provide him with the lifestyle of which he has become accustomed. It is so demeaning to have to rely on we who are just not as evolved and transformative as he.

  • rigdum_funidos

    actually if you ask the question fairly, about two-thirds oppose the bill. the problem is that there are a few things [of course] in a 2500 page bill that people like: for example letting “children” up to age 26 go on their parents’ policies, and dealing with the problem of preexisting conditions, at least for children. Many health insurance companies will solve some of these themselves, and many Republicans support saving some parts of the bill–even if they want the whole thing to go down and then re-pass the good parts.

  • Kis

    Michael@37: “I would also say that looking at the comments is sickening. Nothing is more pathetic than the whining persecution complex of white conservative mainstream America.”

    Nothing? Surely you’ll agree with me that even more pathetic are the Uncle Toms who join them!

    Was that statement racist enough to meet your approval?

  • thibaud

    @ #36 – here’s Nate Silver’s objective, balanced, expert assessment of Scott Rasmussen’s polling on healthcare:

    “4. Rasmussen Reports

    “Who They Are / What’s Their Angle: Regular readers of this website will be very familiar with Rasmussen Reports, a standalone polling firm that releases a prolific amount of polling data on elections and public policy issues. Past analyses have generally found Rasmussen’s electoral polling to be quite reliable.

    “However, some observers have questioned its issue-based polling, which frequently tends to elicit responses that are more conservative than those found on other national surveys.

    “Rasmussen Reports’ founder, Scott Rasmussen, is a Republican, although neither he nor Rasmussen Reports have appear to have contributed to political candidates in recent years. Nor to my awareness does Rasmussen Reports conduct a significant amount of polling directly on behalf of political candidates.

    Specifications: 1,000 American adults on June 12th and 13th. Assuming that procedures here were the same as for other Rasmussen polling, surveys were conducted via the IVR (“robocall”) method and were weighted for partisan identification and other factors.

    Question Wording and Results:

    “Would it be a good idea to set up a government health insurance company to compete with private health insurance companies?”

    Yes: 41%
    No: 41%

    “Discussion: I am not particularly fond of this question wording. For one thing, unlike the other polls, it focuses on the action of setting up the “government health insurance company” rather than the choice of insurance plans this ultimately presents to the consumer.

    “For another, it is not clear that a new program would have to be “set up” in order to provide for a public option (i.e. an existing program like Medicare could be expanded), nor that any such entity would properly be described as a “company”.

    *** The poll seems designed to juxtapose the terms “government” and “company” in a way that might elicit a negative response. ***

    “(Note that I actually like the inclusion of the term “government” in conjunction with, or perhaps instead of, the term “public”. The problem is not with the term “government” itself but instead with the overall way that the question is phrased.)


    Non-partisanship rating: 2.5 (on a scale of 1-5)

    Question wording: 1.5

    Sample size, sample selection and disclosure: 3.5

    Overall informativeness: 2.0

  • thibaud

    Riddle me this, ladies and gents: objective, fairly-worded polls show that the public is

    A) about evenly divided on ACA overall

    B) strongly against the individual mandate

    C) strongly in favor of the public option and even more strongly in favor ( over 80%) of ending the insurers’ practice of DOB for “pre-existing conditions”

    Obviously, there is huge overlap in the populations of people who support B and C, above.

    In other words, a large part of that overall two-thirds majority who support the public option also oppose the cockamamie, insurer-friendly sop that is the individual mandate.

    The solution is the one that neither Obama nor the GOP would contemplate: take on the private insurance mafia, expand medicare to everyone, and change the tax code to end the insane linkage of employment and health insurance.

    This is what every advanced industrial democracy does, and they all have vastly lower healthcare spend per capita, with overall health outcomes that are as good or better than ours.

    A substantial majority of the US public sees this, even if our craven political class and the Tea Party loons do not.

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