Public Priorities on Health Care and Spending

We recently hit the one-year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, and of course conservatives were screaming about how we must repeal this horrible law (when they could catch their breath from screaming about cutting domestic spending). But the public is still not convinced.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents in the most recent Kaiser Health Care Tracking poll say we should repeal the law and either not replace it (21 percent) or replace it with a GOP-sponsored alternative (18 percent). That compares with 51 percent who say we should either keep the law as is (21 percent) or expand it (30 percent).

Conservatives, as part of their crusade against social spending, are also trying to sneak various provisions into budget authorizations that would defund the health care law. The public definitely isn’t sympatico with that. In the same poll the public disapproved of cutting off funds to implement the health reform law by an overwhelming 64-30 margin.

Finally, a just-released AP poll finds that 52 percent of the public prefers increasing spending on education, infrastructure, and the development of alternative energy sources even if that will increase the federal budget deficit. This is compared to 41 percent who prefer reducing the deficit by cutting spending even if that means no new programs could be enacted in those areas. These findings should cause some consternation in conservative quarters.

Note that the introduction to the question mentions the $1 trillion federal budget deficit, indicating the public is not easily talked out of its interest in new investment in these areas.

It would be an understatement to say conservatives are out of touch with the public’s priorities on health care and spending. And that disconnect gets larger with every passing day.

Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.