A National Journal article claims that Washington Congressman Jay Inslee (D-Bainbridge Island) is circulating a letter to colleagues that was ghost-written by a lobbying group that wants the FCC to regulate the internet. The conservative blog, RedState.com, points out the irony of the Inslee letter originating from a Congressman so close to Microsoft being caught in a scandal by their technology.
Speaking of Inlee’s relations with lobbyists, it’s instructive to revisit a dust-up that hasn’t gotten much attention. After the state’s Republican AG joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform bill, all eyes were on Inslee (as he’s widely thought to be a candidate for Governor, ahem, should the incumbent leave early).
At the time, Inslee wrote in a press release:
“We fought over 2,000 insurance industry lobbyists in Washington DC to protect Washingtonians health care, we shouldn’t have to fight our own Attorney General too.”
You see, Inslee isn’t any lobbyist’s stooge. Unless, you know, you’re talking about a group wanting to regulate the internet, or the drug companies wanting to maintain their ability to charge exorbitant fees for life-saving drugs (h/t Firedoglake).
The results of a poll on health care priorities that was taken prior to last year’s general election will be released Monday by The Washington Poll. The group reports that, although only 18 percent of respondents (a pool of 724 registered Washington state voters) stated that health care reform was their top issue of importance, 75 percent affirmed some degree support for a public option and 52 percent approved of paying higher taxes to provide universal availability of coverage.
The Washington Poll is a project conducted in the University of Washington’s Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race, and Sexuality (WISER). In 2009, in polling regarding the races for King County Executive and Seattle Mayor, The Washington Poll accurately determined an eleventh-hour swing to Dow Constantine in race for county chief but incorrectly projected that Joe Mallahan would take over from Greg Nickels in Seattle City Hall, not current mayor Mike McGinn.
The responses for the group’s recently released survey on health care-related issues were gathered by telephone during the period of October 14-16, 2009. The reported margin of error is plus or minus 3.6 percent. The full report can be viewed here.
Three recent national polls conducted regarding the Democratic health care plan have indicated a six to eight-point margin of opposition to the current package. Specifically, the most recent Rasmussen poll, taken after the much-ballyhooed health care summit between GOP and Democratic leadership, registered 52 percent against and only 44 percent in favor. That survey also contained the revelation that 63 percent of respondents felt that passing smaller reforms was a smarter path to improving the health care system, and to that end The Washington Poll may be useful to politicians in identifying what those smaller issues might be.
Skepticism is, however, prudent in considering the weight that should be given to a four-month-old poll reporting strong support for key elements of the President’s health care package. In terms of gauging public opinion on heatedly debated policy issues, a four months aging of the data can be like the difference between sipping Chianti and spitting vinegar. Cynicism may even be warranted considering that its release comes just as Democrats in Washington, D.C. are caucusing to cross the Rubicon and pass a health care bill using the nuclear option of reconciliation.
But capriciously dismissing polls one does not like is a surefire technique for giving Murphy’s Law jurisdiction to sideswipe one’s own cause. An outlier poll can have a strong effect on the minds of voters if the media chooses not to scrutinize carefully or place in proper context the results. GOP strategists will need to be aware of reports like that of The Washington Poll as the full-court press goes into action this week.
If Democrats do opt to send the bill to the president by way of reconciliation, their public relations strategy may be to prominently cite selected surveys to show that their actions were, in fact, popular.
Would a Jedi mind trick strategy like that work to pass healthcare amid low public support by simultaneously informing the public that they were in favor of the measure? In politics, literally anything can happen.
By Roger Stark, MD
Health Care Policy Analyst
U.S. House and Senate Democrats have passed two sweeping 2,000 page bills that would fundamentally and dramatically change our health care. There are significant differences between the two bills, but the more moderate Senate bill has the best chance of passing through the conference committee and being signed by the President. Both bills passed on a strict party-line vote, with essentially no support from minority Republicans.
Brian Baird continues to sink deeper into the partisan pit sands. In doing so, he’s losing any remaining semblance of being a moderate.
A few weeks back, I managed to join one of his “tele-town hall” calls, after a source sent me the call-in info. Last week I blew the top off Baird’s sham tele-town halls. Among other questionable practices, Baird intentionally keeps the date, time, and call-in info for his “tele-town halls” secret. Indeed, you might say his calls amount to taxpayer funded private focus groups.