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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems More in Tune With Voters on Health Care

In connectiion with the growing buzz about “Sicko,” Michael Moore’s new documentary about America’s health care system, Robin Toner has an update on the health care proposals of ’08 presidential candidates of both parties in today’s New York Times. She touches on the candidates positions on public and private sector plans, inclusiveness of coverage, financial and cost containment ideas, tax incentives and other aspects.
Toner provides capsule policy summaries for each candidate here. (See also our post here for more insight into the candidates’ policies and here for an overview of how the different states are doing ).

As Toner reports, the Republicans are predictably more rigid about keeping America’s health security firmly in the hands of the private sector, while Dems are more open to a greater role for the government. Which party is more in tune with the views of the American people?
A Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll conducted 5/3 to 6/3 found that 46 percent of respondents wanted the presidential candidates to focus primarilly on lowering the cost of helath care, while 40 percent wanted them to make expanding coverage to the uninsured the top priority. The study also found that 39 percent of respondents were “willing to pay more” in taxes or premiums to increase the number of Americans who have health insurance.
A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll conducted 5/4-6 indicated that 64 percent of adults believed “government should provide a national health insurance program for all Americans, even if this would require higher taxes.” Similarly a Gallup Poll conducted November 9-12, found that 69 percent believed “it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure that all Americans have health care coverage,” with 39 percent favoring “replacing the current health care system with a new government-run health care system.” But 51 percent prefered to “maintain the current system based mostly on private health insurance…” And an NBC News/Wall St. Journal Poll conducted 1/17-20 found 53 percent agreeing that “I would be willing to pay higher taxes so that everyone can have health insurance.”
Since all of the Republicans are opposed to a stronger role for the federal government, the Dems appear to be in a better position to ride the tides of public opinion.

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