Talking About Health Care.

Kevin Drum is annoyed at the way polling on the health-care law is presented. He calls out The Washington Post on a story that is factually correct in the technical sense -- it notes that 50 percent of Americans oppose the law -- but misleading in a more full sense -- 13 percent of those who oppose it think it doesn't go far enough. Combined with the 45 percent of those who support it, that means that a majority of Americans support the overall reform agenda, but just think we haven't finished the job. It also explains why only 37 percent support repeal.

Drums says, and it's true, that we've drilled down on these numbers enough by now to stop running stories like that. Another story shows why that story doesn't matter so much. According to a survey by the Department of Health and Human Services, as many as 129 million Americans under the age of 65 have pre-existing conditions that would likely make it impossible for them to get insurance in the private market. That, of course, will end when the law fully goes into effect in 2014. As Paul Waldman noted yesterday, Republicans have accused the department of playing politics -- since the repeal bill is soon to be up for debate. The Post story mostly plays along. The release of the study is pretty timely.

The broader point is that maybe this is a case in which public opinion is less critical. To the extent the Republicans feel they have sentiment behind them and that it imbues them with power to muck things up, then we have a real problem on our hands. But if what we're talking about is what Democrats should actually push for, they have the facts behind them. One of the annoying things about the Obama presidency is that he seems to have too great a faith that the right policies will win whether the messaging is right or not. Since the law is already passed and what's left is for Democrats to fight for it, this might be a case in which that's actually true.

-- Monica Potts

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