The public goes public on the public (option)

Hot air in debate keeps kite tousling in air

Where do you stand on the public option? It depends on how you’re asked the question, apparently.

Gary Langer, director of polling at ABC News had a really great article today that pointed out that the public’s view on the proposed public option is flapping back in forth in the wind (the wind being the hot air blown by both sides of the debate). It was refreshing to hear Langer’s take on recent polling about the public option that has drawn so much controversy lately.

Seems that in some surveys, when a pollster asks respondents about the public option and refers to it as “similar to Medicare,” respondents (66 percent) are gung ho for the proposal. This tracks with what we’ve been seeing in town halls, as opponents of proposed health reform legislation line up to fight for Medicare (in spite of the fact that it’s a government program).

And, in other polls, when pollsters ask about the public option and refer to it as “government-run,” support may significantly drop. Some folks really hate the idea of more government control of the health care system. But, as Langer points out, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey shows that’s not always the case.

What we learn here – we learn it again, but in a new way – is that the public is really confused about health care proposals. They hear the emotional arguments and they hear key words like “socialized medicine” and “government takeover” and “death care” that color their opinions, but they still don’t understand the proposals.

That’s why President Obama has been pounding away on the pillars of his vision in town hall after town hall. He understands that the key to gaining public support of the public option is to help the public grasp the basics.

We believe the President’s efforts to educate are working. And – as much as some in the media have been pronouncing a public plan dead on arrival – we share the President’s belief that this fight definitely will not be over until it’s over.

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