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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Views on Health Care and Inequality

One year after President Barack Obama signed the health care reform bill into law, a new national poll indicates that attitudes toward the plan have not budged.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday, on the one year anniversary of the signing of the law, 37 percent of Americans support the measure, with 59 percent opposed. That's basically unchanged from last March, when 39 percent supported the law and 59 percent opposed the measure.

"It's worth remembering that opposition to the bill came from both the left and the right last year, and that has not changed either," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "In 2010, about a quarter of the health care bill's opponents disliked the bill because it was not liberal enough - the same as today. That works out to 13 percent of all Americans who oppose the bill because it did not go far enough. Forty-three percent oppose it because it was too liberal."

In our chapter on civic culture, we note ways in which American individualism hinders policies to redistribute income. At the New York Times, Scott Winship writes:

Just one percent of Americans mention inequality when asked what is the most important problem facing the country. Why? Partly because the concentration of wealth is strikingly low by historical standards and the gap between rich and poor has not increased as much as many pundits believe. Another factor may be the relative affluence that the typical American enjoys today.


The Economic Mobility Project recently asked people what was more important, reducing inequality or ensuring that everyone has a fair chance at improving their economic standing. More than 60 percent "strongly" felt opportunity was more important, while just 16 percent felt strongly about reducing inequality.

In the same survey, 17 percent said it was a "major problem" that people born to rich parents tend to remain at the top as adults (we gave them the actual figure). In contrast, more than half said it was a major problem that 42 percent of those starting at the bottom will remain there. The nation is looking for the same thing it has for decades – not a leveling of income differences, but a fair chance for everyone to achieve the American Dream.