For the past few months, the public option has faced a barrage of attacks from the insurance industry and its allies on Capitol Hill, both Republicans and Democrats. The American people have rejected the criticism. In the real world, there’s growing support for the public option, according to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll, which just came out:
On the issue that has been a flash point in the national debate, 57 percent of all Americans now favor a public insurance option, while 40 percent are opposed. Support has risen since mid-August, when a bare majority, 52 percent, said they favored it. (In a June Post-ABC poll, support had been at 62 percent.)
If run by the states and available only to those who lack affordable private options, support for a public plan jumps to 76 percent. Under those circumstances, even a majority of Republicans, 56 percent, would be supportive, about double their level of support without such a limitation.
We keep hearing from top Obama advisers that the president thinks the public option is “the best possible choice.” He’s got the American people on his side. So why is he so reticent to demand a real public option be included in the final bill?
In addition to growing support for a public option, a key finding in the poll is that a majority of the American people want results more than they want bipartisanship:
Faced with a basic strategic choice that soon may confront the administration and Democratic congressional leaders, a slim majority of Americans, 51 percent, would prefer a reform plan that included some form of government insurance for people who cannot get affordable private coverage even if it had no GOP support in Congress. Thirty-seven percent would rather have a bipartisan plan without such a choice. Republicans and Democrats are on opposite sides of this question, with independents preferring legislation with a public option and without Republican support by 52 to 35 percent.
On this question, Greg Sargent has a very good take on what it means:
Okay, this is important: The new Washington Post poll finally asks people about their cravings for bipartisanship in the right way, and its finding really challenges the conventional wisdom that people want bipartisan health care compromise at all costs.
Specifically: A majority wants a Dem-only bill rather than a bipartisan one if the Dem-only one includes a public insurance option and the bipartisan one doesn’t.
Exactly. The D.C. conventional wisdom is wrong, again. Good policy trumps the Congressional process. It’s so inside-the-beltway to think the process matters. In the long run, this is going to be the Obama health insurance reform law, not the “Obama + one or two GOPers” bill. (Remember, they call it the “Bush tax cut,” not the “Bush + Max Baucus and a couple other Democrats” tax cut.)
So, if the Obama administration wants bipartisanship, it exists from the American people, not the professional Republicans here in Washington. This would also seem to indicate that Rush, FOX and Beck, who have been apoplectic about any kind of reform, don’t speak for their party.
NOTE FROM JOHN: It’s actually kind of amazing. The Obama administration has refused to puts its weight behind the public option, yet the poll numbers for the public option keep growing. All of this has me wondering if the Teabaggers and their fake August protests didn’t scare the hell out of the White House and the Democrats in Congress. They actually believe that opposition to the public option is real, simply because a handful of nutjobs, organized by Glenn Beck, told them it was. There’s still time for our president to lead.