Before 2013 begins, catch up on the best of 2012. From now until the New Year, we will be re-posting some of The New Republic’s most thought-provoking pieces of the year.
Sunday night’s House vote on health reform clarified the contours of the mid-term elections. The contest has been nationalized, with two dominant issues—the economy and health care—and one overriding theme: the proper role of government. The administration and Democratic congressional leaders should not believe that the new health care legislation will speak for itself. In fact, the debate over the next eight months may well be as robust and consequential as was the debate during the past eight months.
Anyone who has followed closely the debate over national health insurance has probably noticed some peculiar inconsistencies in Americans’ attitudes toward the legislation. A Pew Poll released on October 8 found “steady support” for specific elements of the health care plan, including the public alternative to private insurance, the employer mandate, and the requirement that everyone have insurance. Nonetheless, popular support for the plan itself was declining, with 34 percent “generally [in] favor” and 47 percent “generally opposed.” What accounts for this disparity?