There's a new poll out from the Kaiser Family Foundation on health-care reform, and it shows pretty much what you'd expect: The public is closely divided and extremely misinformed. But they aren't randomly misinformed; they're systematically misinformed. Democrats are slightly misinformed, independents are quite misinformed, and Republicans are ridiculously misinformed. Take, for instance, this question:
This isn't a matter of interpretation; it's a matter of fact: At every stage in this process, the CBO has said that every version of reform will lower the deficit. The only question has been by how much.
Part of this happens because some people get their information from sources that deliberately misinform them (e.g. Fox). But the greater part is that we tend not to assess the facts and then decide what we think; we decide what we think and then decide what the "facts" are. And with each new question, it gets worse:
This too, is not a matter of opinion. No one who has employer-sponsored insurance will have to change plans if this reform passes. And note that large number of Democrats believe these erroneous things about health-care reform. Oh, and one more thing: When they asked people how much they felt they knew about the proposals, 64 percent said "a lot" or "a fair amount."
Is this disheartening? Sure. But if nothing else, once reform passes, people will see that the terrible things that they thought would happen did not, in fact, happen.
-- Paul Waldman