If the Supreme Court strikes down part or all of the Affordable Care Act, a strong plurality of the public wants Congress to try again to come up with a comprehensive health care law to guarantee insurance for all Americans.
Forty-six percent of respondents in a new poll favor that ambitious approach, while 18 percent say that Congress should be content to “pass smaller measures that will cover some people without insurance but not as many as the original law.” Meanwhile, 28 percent of respondents said that Congress should simply do away with all of President Obama’s 2010 law, including any parts the Supreme Court may decide to uphold.
The results appear in the latest edition of the United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.
The near majority — 46 percent — that favored trying to come up with another law providing health insurance to all Americans shows a public that still has an ambitious agenda for Congress at the same time that it’s wary of parts of the Obama legislation.
According to the poll, some 74 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to strike down the individual mandate that’s at the heart of the Affordable Care Act. Only 23 percent wanted the mandate upheld, and 3 percent didn’t know or refused to answer. Those results are in keeping with other public-opinion polls.
Some Supreme Court justices were openly skeptical of the mandate’s constitutionality during oral arguments earlier this spring, and Congress could well find itself this summer facing a gutted or overturned health care law as well as a public that still is demanding progress toward universal coverage — all at a time when the deficit is swelling, Washington is polarized, and the presidential and congressional elections are looming.
The Congressional Connection Poll, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, surveyed 1,012 adults by landline and cell phone from May 31 to June 3. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.7 percentage points.
The poll is the latest in a series of national surveys that track the public’s priorities for Congress — and its assessment of Washington’s performance — during most weeks that Congress is in session during this election year.
This edition of the Congressional Connection Poll also measured public attitudes toward issues raised by the farm bill that Congress is considering this year. The mammoth, multibillion-dollar measure must be renewed by this fall, and while the Senate Agriculture Committee passed a bipartisan measure in April — a rare hopeful sign of bonhomie in Congress — there are still any number of issues holding up an agreement, including price-support and insurance provisions that rice, peanut, and cotton growers have vowed to fight. Southern senators on the Senate Agriculture Committee voted no when the bill came up for a vote at a markup last month.
Funding for food stamps is also a divisive issue. The budget resolution that passed the House calls for program cuts that face overwhelming Democratic opposition; the more modest changes in the food-stamp program in the Senate Agriculture Committee bill earned a no vote from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York over the bill’s treatment of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as the food-stamp program is formally known.
One poll question noted that enrollment in SNAP has risen from 32 million when President Obama took office to 46 million today. Asked what caused the increase, 45 percent of respondents attributed the sharp rise to the recession and slow recovery, while only 12 percent chalked it up to loose eligibility requirements or fraud. A sizable slice of the public — 39 percent — saw the economy and fraud or loose eligibility as equal causes of the increase.
When asked if spending on the food-stamp program should be increased as part of the farm bill, 20 percent responded that it should be, 32 percent said it should be decreased, and 42 percent said that spending should be kept about the same — a pattern that would seem to suggest House Republicans need to do more to sell the public on the idea of substantial cuts in SNAP. Not surprisingly, the poll found Republicans more likely to favor cutting spending on food stamps. Only 4 percent of Republicans favored increasing spending on food stamps, while 55 percent wanted to see it cut. Republicans were three times more likely than Democrats (21 percent to 7 percent) to blame loose eligibility requirements and fraud as the cause of the increase in food-stamp rolls.
White men were particularly critical of food-stamp spending. A full 44 percent of white males with college educations wanted food stamps cut; 41 percent of white men with some college education or less wanted the program cut. Each demographic was more likely than the national average to see fraud and loose standards as the cause of the hike in the food-stamp rolls.
Despite the pressure on Congress to cut spending, the poll found strong support for either increasing or keeping spending about the same for subsidies to farmers and agribusinesses to help guarantee that prices for their crops don’t fall too low. Thirty-nine percent of the public wanted the amount spent on such subsidies to go up, while 37 percent wanted it to stay the same. Only 19 percent wanted to see cuts, a significantly lower percentage than the 32 percent who wanted to see food stamps cut. Five percent of the poll respondents didn’t know or refused to answer the question.
The public showed enthusiasm for increasing the amount spent to promote local farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and other direct sales from producers to consumers. A near majority, 48 percent, wanted more money spent on this, while only 15 percent wanted such funding cut. Thirty-two percent wanted it kept about the same. The bill that was voted out of the Senate Agriculture Committee included expanded funding to help farmers sell directly to consumers. A recent poll by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation found that 80 percent of the public says Washington should do more to increase access to locally produced food. Although the question was worded somewhat differently than the one posed in the Congressional Connection Poll, the results suggest that these programs may have a political constituency waiting to be tapped.
Despite all the talk about American competitiveness overseas, respondents showed no great enthusiasm for spending more “to promote the sale of American agricultural products overseas.” Only 32 percent of those surveyed thought that Washington should spend more to help U.S. farm exports, while 35 percent wanted to spend about the same and 27 percent wanted to see such programs cut.
What We're Following See More »
"Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson told CNN Thursday that Mitt Romney was considering endorsing him for president this fall." He said the two had recently spoken. Johnson's running mate, Bill Weld, agreed that they have a good chance of winning the endorsement, especially if they meet the 15% polling threshold for participating in the presidential debates.
"It is with humility, determination, and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for president," said Hillary Clinton in becoming the first woman to accept a nomination for president from a major party. Clinton gave a wide-ranging address, both criticizing Donald Trump and speaking of what she has done in the past and hopes to do in the future. "He's taken the Republican party a long way, from morning in America to midnight in America," Clinton said of Trump. However, most of her speech focused instead on the work she has done and the work she hopes to do as president. "I will be a president of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. For the struggling, the striving, the successful," she said. "For those who vote for me and for those who don't. For all Americans together."
Supporters of Bernie Sanders promised to walk out, turn their backs, or disrupt Hillary Clinton's speech tonight, and they made good immediately, with an outburst almost as soon as Clinton began her speech. But her supporters, armed with a handy counter-chant cheat sheet distributed by the campaign, immediately began drowning them out with chants of "Hillary, Hillary!"
If a new poll is to be believed, Hillary Clinton has a big lead in the all-important swing state of Pennsylvania. A new Suffolk University survey shows her ahead of Donald Trump, 50%-41%. In a four-way race, she maintains her nine-point lead, 46%-37%. "Pennsylvania has voted Democratic in the past six presidential elections, going back to Bill Clinton’s first win in 1992. Yet it is a rust belt state that could be in play, as indicated by recent general-election polling showing a close race."
Wednesday was the third night in a row that the Democratic convention enjoyed a ratings win over the Republican convention last week. Which might have prompted a fundraising email from Donald Trump exhorting supporters not to watch. "Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight," the email read. "Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks."