President Obama's top strategists have belatedly challenged the Republican argument that Congress should kill his health care reform plan because the American people have rejected it.
White House counselor David Axelrod noted on several Sunday shows that when Americans are asked about key provisions, they support such things as ending the denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions and requiring all Americans to have health insurance.
Obama pollster Joel Benenson wrote in the Washington Post that, in the few polls that asked detailed follow-up questions, "a significant number of people who oppose current plans do so because they don't go far enough." His argument: If it passes, they'll be on the administration's side.
The contention that Americans have rejected Obama's plan is just one of the myths and misrepresentations clouding the yearlong debate. Here are some others:
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* Democrats are trying to "ram through" a sweeping bill without sufficient debate.
Congress has considered the issue for a year and held countless hearings and drafting sessions. The latest version is essentially the same as the Senate-passed version. One reason the debate lasted so long is that Democrats unwisely allowed bipartisan Senate Finance Committee discussions to drag on, attracting no GOP support but contributing to the failure to complete action last year.
* The Democrats would twist the rules by using the "reconciliation" process to complete action. This will "destroy the ability of this country to work together for a very long time," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham warned Sunday on ABC.
Both parties have used this process because it permits a majority to act, rather than requiring a supermajority of 60 because of unlimited Senate debate rules Republicans are using against the bill. It's hard to see how partisanship can get worse.
* Obama should have put jobs before health care.
He did that in the economic stimulus measure Congress passed soon after his inauguration. It's created or saved 2 million jobs, including those of teachers and public safety officials who would have been fired to meet local and state balanced-budget requirements. Many economists believe the stimulus, limited to attract Senate Republican votes, was too small. Obama undercut his success in preventing economic disaster by prematurely setting a goal of holding unemployment below 8 percent, a level quickly surpassed, though the recent trend has been positive. Congress also is considering additional job creation measures.
* Obama's spending is creating a massive deficit, and health care will make it worse.
While the stimulus was expensive, the deficit explosion stems mainly from a sharp drop in economic activity since late 2007. The administration predicts its bill would at least slow the rise in the deficit, if not reduce it.
* Democrats face electoral disaster if they pass a health bill.
Failure would help them avoid it. But many believe they would suffer more if they don't produce. Democrats won recent elections because voters felt Republicans couldn't resolve major problems. Passage of health reform would show the Democrats can.
* Supporting health care could defeat a Democrat in a conservative district.
In most cases, the problem is the district, not the vote. Forty-nine House Democrats, many considered vulnerable, represent districts that voted in 2008 for John McCain. The persistence of the recession and the administration's difficulties in passing key measures have hurt vulnerable Democrats with independents.
* Voting against health care would help conservative Democrats get Republican and independent votes.
But it could cost Democratic votes. It's never good to turn off your base.
* Defeating health care would remove it from the public agenda and get Democrats off the defensive.
But the best way to change the political dynamic is to pass it. Then, the issue might become whether Republicans, if they regain Congress, would repeal the new benefits. Democrats who initially backed the bill will face GOP attacks whether or not it passes. Passing it would let them show they achieved something.
Pollsters Patrick Caddell and Douglas Schoen argue Democrats are pushing an unpopular plan that will sink them politically. But in a tough climate for incumbents, failure to pass it would hurt them and the country more.