The best hope to stop the Democratic attempt to wreck the health care system is the self-preservation instinct of moderate Democrats. Health care reform is growing less popular, especially among seniors, who used to punish Republicans for suggesting cuts in Medicare.
Among seniors, opposition to ObamaCare hit 63% in last month’s Economist/YouGov Poll. But the number from that poll that should spook Democrats is this: 47% of seniors said they “strongly” oppose health-care reform, just 27% “strongly” support it. Seniors are the biggest consumers of health care, and their family members will probably take their concerns seriously. Seniors will likely cast about 20% of the votes next year.
The trend behind these numbers is that voters are turning away from Democrats. In 2006, the year the GOP lost control of Congress, Democrats enjoyed a double-digit lead in several “generic ballot” polls-a measure of voters’ party preference. Democrats held that lead until this year. Today, Gallup’s generic ballot shows Democrats have a razor thin 46% to 44% edge. According to Gallop’s numbers, independents now favor Republicans by nine points.
The numbers may get worse for Democrats if they pass a health-care bill. Why? Because Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D., Mont.) wants to frontload the reforms with distasteful things. Under his plan, tax hikes and Medicare and Medicaid cuts kick in immediately, while new benefits are delayed for two-and-a-half years. Voters likely won’t warm to reforms that slam them next year while promising benefits down the road.
The Democrats face the greatest danger if they win and pass something like the Baucus plan, which will impose costs before any alleged benefits. But the rest of us will be a greatest risk as well, since it will be hard to step back, no matter how bad the consequences, once the system has been nationalized. Which means that it is imperative to stop Obamacare.