Russ Britt at the Wall Street Journal:
A majority of Americans prefer to continue Medicare as it is, and only a little more than a third favor a “premium support” program outlined by Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, according to a new poll.
The poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation also finds – in what may surprise many – that on handling the future of the controversial health-care overhaul bill, President Barack Obama holds a 53% to 33% lead despite trepidation among the population over the incumbent’s signature piece of legislation…
A little more from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s September poll:
The poll finds that a majority Americans do not embrace shifting the Medicare program toward a premium support model at this time. Fifty-five percent prefer that Medicare continue as it is today, while 37 percent favor a premium support (or defined contribution) system with a traditional Medicare option of the sort called for by Republican presidential nominee Governor Mitt Romney and his running mate, Representative Paul Ryan. Support for the status quo is stronger among those 55 and older — two-thirds of whom want to keep Medicare as it is — even though Gov. Romney has emphasized in his campaign that this group would not be affected by his proposal… [Pols emphasis]
The poll also finds that President Obama enjoys a significant edge over Gov. Romney when it comes to whom the public trusts to handle Medicare. Fifty-two percent of the public say President Obama is the candidate they “trust to do a better job” of determining Medicare’s future, compared to 32 percent who pick Gov. Romney. The president’s advantage has increased significantly since July, when 44 percent chose him and 34 percent chose Gov. Romney. However, among Americans 65 and older the gap closes, with 44 percent naming the president and 42 percent picking Gov. Romney.
You can still find remnants of the last few years of pitched rhetorical battles all over this poll, some of it representing lingering challenges for President Barack Obama. After the long campaign to accuse Obama, however factlessly, of “cutting Medicare to fund Obamacare,” 30% of the public believes that “Obamacare” will harm Medicare instead of strengthen it. Public opinion about the Affordable Care Act as a whole remains sharply split in this poll, with 44% expressing a favorable opinion but 40% still unhappy with it.
But in a larger sense, it’s clear from these numbers that the years-long campaign by Republicans to win the issue of health care policy, both before and in the wake of “Obamacare,” has failed. Despite, or maybe because of the hyperbolic campaign against Obama over health care, the GOP has lost credibility on this issue–not gained it. Perhaps more important, by selecting Mitt Romney as the party’s nominee this year, a self-injurious situation was created whereby one of the chief weapons against the sitting president also works against the challenger. In the end, “Romneycare” in Massachusetts has helped both to underscore the fundamental hypocrisy of attacks on “Obamacare,” and helped to demystify health care reform generally.
As for Medicare, this poll reveals the extreme folly of the selection of Paul Ryan as Romney’s running mate. Ryan has truly become the face of the “destruction” (we prefer the term privatization) of Medicare, which is deeply unpopular with voters even as they acknowledge changes need to be made to the system to preserve its solvency. Ryan has saddled the Romney-Ryan ticket with his baggage on Medicare, and–it remains to be seen how much–harmed not just the presidential ticket’s prospects, but the chances of so many Republican members of Congress who are being gleefully tied to the “Ryan Plan” by Democrats today.
And so the issue that put the GOP over the top in 2010 has become a grave liability.