By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
The Democrats have been trying to pass nationalized healthcare ever since Harry S Truman. With Barack Obama, who campaigned on the issue, they won their first presidential mandate since Lyndon Johnson, a sizable majority in the House and a filibusterproof majority in the Senate. And, six months into a period in which they can do anything they want, they still can't seem to get healthcare done.
In the meantime, they are losing the support of the country for change.
The latest ABC News-Washington Post poll of 1,001 U.S. adults found that 50 percent of the country now disapproves of the job President Obama is doing on healthcare, up 6 points from 44 percent who felt that way in July. And a minority, 49 percent, think he will be able to "make significant improvements" in the U.S. healthcare system.
Many people now believe, based on the results of the poll, that it may in fact be better to do nothing at all. A whopping 80 percent of those surveyed said the quality of their healthcare would, at best, stay the same or get worse if the healthcare system is changed.
The electoral implications of the failure to keep it together on healthcare are, for the Democrats, potentially severe. Several recent polls have shown the Republicans now leading on the generic congressional ballot for 2010. The ABC News-Post poll found that healthcare is likely one reason for the shift. Just 23 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for a candidate for Congress who supports the proposed changes to the health system being developed by Congress and the President—while almost a third, 32 percent, said it would make them more likely to oppose that candidate's election or re-election.
It may be, after almost 50 years, it is time for them to give up on the idea of a European-style government take over the healthcare system. Like Republican hopes to fundamentally alter the Social Security system by adding private accounts to the calculation, the Democrats' intentions for the American healthcare system may just be one bridge too far.