The Spectacle Blog

Hoyer Falsely Claims WSJ Poll Shows Majority Support for HC Bill

By on 3.17.10 | 9:05AM

In recent weeks, top Democrats have made a number of arguments to play down opposition to the health care bill. They've said that Americans like the individual components of the bill and that support would grow once it passes (as Speaker Pelosi infamously put it, "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it"). President Obama has even been arguing that the American people don't want lawmakers looking at polls. But this morning House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer tried a new tactic: lying about what's in specific polls.

"Since the President addressed the nation on health care, the support has gone up 18 points," Hoyer said on ABC's Good Morning America. "And a Wall Street Journal poll that just came out shows a majority of those responding indicate they're for the bill."

Yet the problem about telling a specific lie rather than making generally misleading or silly statements, is that when you're specific, it's easier to point out when you're lying.

From the referenced Wall Street Journal poll:

The survey found that opinions have solidified around the health-care legislation, with 48% calling it a "bad idea" and 36% viewing it as a "good idea" when presented with a choice between those two. That gap is consistent with surveys dating to the fall.

Since the WSJ/NBC poll began surveying the issue last April, support for the bill has been in the 33 percent to 39 percent range, but 48 percent is the highest level of opposition yet recorded by the survey.

Yet instead of calling Hoyer out on his demonstrably false statement, George Stephanopoulos just said that the poll presented a "mixed message." While it's true that other questions in the poll presented a more complex portrait of public opinion, the fact is that there's no way to interpret this poll as showing majority support for the legislation. Republican Whip Eric Cantor was standing right next to Hoyer and missed an opportunity to call him out on the lie.

In other comments, Hoyer implied that Democrats would in fact use the "deem and pass" strategy, or "Slaughter Solution," to pass the Senate bill without actually voting on it. 

"We're gonna have a clean up or down vote on the Senate bill," Hoyer said. "That'll be on the rule."

Forgetting any arguments one would make about the use of this procedure, does this make any sense from a political standpoint? If Hoyer is going the act as if a vote for the rule is actually a vote for the Senate bill, then why not just go ahead and vote directly on the Senate bill?

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