Congressional Democrats have spent most of the last year hiding from the voters, refusing to engage them in the town hall meeting format that proved so damaging during last summer’s healthcare debate. Now, buoyed by some carefully selected polling data that suggests support for the new law may be increasing, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team “have sent lawmakers back to their districts urging them to hold town hall-type meetings,” the Hill reported Wednesday, “in the belief it could help Democrats avoid major losses in November.”
It’s a fool’s errand, akin to asking them to climb atop a log as it heads toward a buzz saw.
Most of the polls conducted since Congress narrowly approved the new healthcare show it is still not popular. A recent Rasmussen Reports survey of those likely to vote in the November 2010 election found 60 percent of those queried were opposed to the law while only 36 percent said they were for it. A poll of 1,000 likely voters conducted by Resurgent Republic found likely voters in agreement that the law should be repealed “by a 53 to 41 percent margin, including a 52 to 39 percent margin among Independents.”
A major problem the Democrats face in claiming credit for the new law is that it does things that President Barack Obama and other Democrats promised it would not do and that it does not do many of the things they promised it would.
For example, as Senators Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Barrasso of Wyoming explain in an oversight report released Wednesday--"Bad Medicine: A Check-Up on the New Federal Health Law"--Obamacare will drive the cost of healthcare up rather than bring it down. And, rather than being allowed to keep the private insurance they currently have, the report says, nearly 16 million Americans are being “forced into Medicaid--a program that denies care, has higher rates of infant mortality, and yields lower health outcomes for patients."
Coburn and Barrasso, who were both practicing physicians before coming to the Senate, also say the enactment of the new healthcare law will cause millions of Americans “to lose their current health plans as employers either drop coverage or purchase more expensive, government-dictated insurance,” while “Patients with pre-existing conditions still face care restrictions, since the new federal risk pool is seriously underfunded and will offer coverage months after required by the new law.”
“One hundred days after the new federal healthcare law was passed, Americans remain anxious about how it will impact them and their families. Unfortunately, when measured against the administration’s own stated goals, the new health law fails to address the top healthcare concerns of the American people,” the two Republican senators said in releasing their report.
It is these facts that the voters will come to town hall meetings prepared to discuss and it is these facts that the Democrats, whom Pelosi is now urging to hold them to, will have to address. It is unlikely that they will have answers--meaning it is hard to see how they will benefit from what the speaker is now asking them to do.