This morning, after laying out the Republican strategy for repealing the Affordable Care Act, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) argued that Republicans stood with the American people and urged the administration to follow suit. “The formula is simple, really: when the administration agrees with the American people, we will agree with the administration,” McConnell said in the speech titled “Listening To The People Who Sent Us Here.” “When it disagrees with the American people, we won’t”:
MCCONNELL: But whether or not the administration has a mid-course correction, Republicans have a plan for following through on the wishes of the American people. It starts with gratitude and a certain humility for the task we’ve been handed. It means sticking ever more closely to the conservative principles that got us here. It means learning the lessons of history. And, above all, it means listening to the people who sent us here. If we do all this, we will finish the job.
But McConnell has already broken “the formula” and his pledge to listen to Americans. Exit polls don’t suggest that a majority of Americans support repealing the health law and neither does regular polling. National exit polls reveal that neither party has a mandate on the issue, with 48 percent of Americans saying they want to repeal the law, and 47 percent saying it should be kept in place or expanded.
In most national opinion polls, support for repealing the law is a mile wide but an inch deep. For instance, a recent New York Times survey found that 41% of Americans thought Republicans should repeal the law, but that number dropped to 25% when the respondent was told that “repealing the law meant that insurance companies were no longer required to cover people with existing medical conditions.” Also, 46 percent of respondents also said that “the Democratic party is more likely to improve the health care system,” while just 28 percent thought Republicans were. An earlier poll similarly found that while 40 percent of respondents said they supported repealing the Affordable Care Act, “more than half changed their minds (leaving just 19 percent in favor of repeal) when pollsters mentioned that it’d mean letting insurance companies exclude people with pre-existing conditions.”
Indeed, as I’ve argued here, opposition for the law increased during the election cycle was because Americans were exposed to false advertising about the health law. “Opponents of the legislation, including independent groups, have spent $108 million since March to advertise against it” — “six times more than supporters have spent, including $5.1 million by the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the new law.” That $108 million went to finance the false claims that individuals who don’t purchase coverage will go to jail, or sex offenders will have access to government subsidized Viagra and seniors will lose all their Medicare benefits.
During an appearance on MSNBC this morning, incoming Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey similarly dismissed the polls and suggested that Republicans should pursue the repeal strategy. But in his home state, a majority wanted to leave the plan alone or expand it.” Just 45 percent supported repeal.