Public safety alert: Congress on recess

The congressional recess starts august 7, unplug your TV now

Yesterday, our blog focused on a New York Times/CBS News poll in which 69% of respondents said they “were concerned that the quality of their health care would decline if the government put universal health insurance in place.” In our blog, we also noted that while Americans may be saying (at the moment) that they have concerns about proposed legislation, they’re also really concerned about the existing health care system in general.

So we had to chuckle today when news of two other surveys reported that even though Americans wanted someone to “tap the brakes” on legislation moving through Congress and delay a vote until after the August recess, Americans’ desire for measured action doesn’t mean they mistrust President Obama. In fact, one NYT/CBS News poll shows that Americans still trust President Obama’s vision for reform.  By a 55-26 margin, those polled felt the President has better ideas on health care than Republicans.

Similarly, a GWU Battleground survey conducted July 19-23 found that when respondents were asked who would do a better job with on issue of health reform, 53 percent pointed to the President, while 32 percent pointed to Congressional Republicans.

So what do these surveys this tell us? Something that should be fairly obvious: that the average American isn’t necessarily mistrustful of President Obama’s proposals – OR of those who want Congress to slow down. The problem may simply be that the complexity of this issue is giving Americans a health reform “brain freeze.”

It’s the one recurring complaint that does resonate with us throughout this battle: that the issue is too complex to digest in a very short time.

Most of us who pay attention to the media’s ceaseless speculation about the merits of the legislation can quickly become versed in the messages points – both pro and con – about health reform. But few people seem to truly understand the proposed health reform legislation’s goals and its implications.

Odds are, a tiny percentage of us will ever read the legislation, and even then, only those who are hyperfocused on the issue of health reform will be able to decipher the bill. Like most 1,000-page pieces of legislation, it’s just plain brain-numbing. And sadly, its complexity makes the bill open to interpretation and then, logically, misinterpretation and inevitably, confusing rhetoric.

And the rhetoric is only making things worse. Today, we read that an elderly Iowa woman is selling both of her television sets because she was tired of seeing President Obama talk about health reform. She may have made a wise choice, because with the start of the Congressional recess, Americans should brace themselves for a humongous advertising onslaught from proponents and opponents who are working feverishly to sway Congressional moderates before they return for further consideration of health reform legislation.

It won’t be pretty. We strongly endorse the idea of unplugging your TV and, for that matter, your radios. Grab a cup of coffee, and pick up a newspaper or magazine (or get on your computer) and take a couple of hours to carefully read what each side has to say.

We’ll thank you. Your brain will thank you.