Is health care reform unpopular because people think it’s welfare?

I have a hunch that one of the reasons health care reform polls so badly is because far too many people think ObamaCare is little more than a new welfare program. And Democrats have only themselves to blame for that one.

It’s just my gut, but from the beginning of the debate on health care reform I never really understood why so many on the left kept talking about how the bill would help millions and millions of uninsured finally get insurance.  Note that I did not just say that the bill should not have helped the uninsured.  Instead, I’m talking about messaging.

50 million Americans were without health insurance when ObamaCare became law. That’s around 16% of the US population.

So Democrats who kept making “the uninsured” the lynchpin of the new health care law were basically telling the other 84% of the American people that this law wasn’t about them (even if it really was).

In the best of times, I think Americans are open to charity, to a degree. But 2009-2010 was hardly the most charitable of times. The last thing the American people were looking for in the first two years of the Obama administration was charity for others. They were looking for a lifesaver for themselves and their own family.

Add in the fact that most of health care reform’s provisions don’t seem to kick in for another few years, and that the new insurance exchanges only help a small minority of Americans, and it’s understandable that most Americans end up thinking health care reform is no great shakes for them.

This is a larger problem that Democrats have.  While Republicans do a bang up job of looking out for the rich, the Democrats seem to do the same for the poor.  But what if you’re not rich or poor?  What if you’re middle class, or even – God forbid – upper middle class?  The past few years haven’t exactly been easy on the rest of us either.  But to hear Democrats, far too often their solutions to problems – the mortgage crisis, health care reform – are solutions that seem geared only to the poorest among us.

And while that’s all well and good, unless the poor make up 51% of the vote (and some day, they just might), it feels like a lot of the talk, and a lot of the programs, just aren’t directed at most of us who could really use the help as well.

E.g., Try asking for help refinancing your mortgage.  If you’re like me, and my salary sucked the last few years compared to what it was before the crisis, you’re doing “too well” to get help under all the recent federal mortgage modification programs (my mortgage was “too good” or something).  I certainly don’t feel like I’m doing too well, and it’s kind of insulting to be told that I am.

But just as importantly, it kind of ticks me off that people like me seem to have been forgotten by both parties.  And I suspect lots of others feel the same.

I’m not suggesting that Democrats stop helping the poor.  I am suggesting that Democrats do more to help, and a better job highlighting the help they’re already giving, the rest of us.

More on this week’s expected health care reform Supreme Court decision here.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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