December 19, 2010
Proponents of Obamacare often like to point out that many of the individual pieces of Obamacare are very popular with the public according to polling data. So then, they conclude, the fact that a majority of the public doesn't like the overall proposal must therefore be merely a matter of messaging. Since the individual elements of Obamacare are popular it's really only a matter of explaining it better to get everyone on board with the entire law, they assure themselves and us.
Of course, this kind of rationale is not only highly disingenuous, it's really quite silly as I am about to demonstrate.
The parts of Obamacare that people like are the the good parts, the carrots, the giveaways. The parts people don't like are the bad parts like the mandate and fines, the sticks. Of course, in reality the carrots cannot be extricated from the sticks. They are specifically designed to work in concert, there is no getting the good without the bad.
Let's use the analogy of a cruise. Let's say the government is proposing that everyone should go on a one week cruise on a cruise ship because it would be beneficial to society at large. On this cruise there will be free food and beverage, free entertainment, and a free limo ride for everyone to the cruise terminal. However, in order to lower the costs of all of these items every American will be mandated to go on the cruise whether they want to or not and pay $2000 each.
Proponents of this cruise plan could then conclude that despite the public's apparent distaste for the entire plan surely the overall plan is great by pointing to polling data on the individual features of the plan. Not surprisingly they would find that the free food and beverage polls well, as does the free entertainment and free limo ride. They could say that yes, the part of the plan where we force everyone to take part is widely despised and it costs too much, but look at how popular the free stuff part of the plan is!
So yes, that some of the individual parts of Obamacare are popular is immaterial in an argument attempting to rationalize the entire law. That the lettuce and tomato are still good in a sandwich with rotted meat does not make the sandwich worth eating.