Repealing Obamacare is a nonstarter, but many Americans don’t like the law

March 11, 2013

When Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduces his new budget blueprint Tuesday, the plan will promote the repeal of President Obama's signature health-care law. While the prospect of reversing the law is a legislative nonstarter, it's worth noting that polling shows a substantial percentage of Americans don't like the measure.

(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)
(Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Consider:

* One in three Americans said Congress should repeal the entire law in a January CBS News/New York Times poll, and 19 percent said the individual insurance mandate portion of the law should be repealed. By comparison, 18 percent said the law should be kept as is, and 24 percent said it should be expanded.

* A February Kaiser Health Tracking poll found that 42 percent of Americans held an unfavorable view of the law, while just 36 percent held a favorable view.

* Nearly half of voters (49 percent) said either some or all of the law should be repealed, according to the 2012 network exit poll. Nearly a quarter said the entire law should be removed, more than nine in ten of whom voted for Mitt Romney.

From a political perspective, inclusion of the repeal in the new Ryan blueprint does two things. One, it fires up the conservative base, much of which remains opposed to the law. Two, it means that the Republicans' opening bid in the budget battle is one that is going to reignite Democratic criticism.

Since its passage in 2010, the law, as a whole, hasn't been widely popular. That isn't too surprising, especially considering how divisive the process of passing it shaped up. But while the law in its entirely didn't attract majority support in major polling from 2010 through the middle of 2012, most of its individual components did receive positive reviews.

And while fewer than one in five voters said that health care was the most important issue facing the country at the time of the election, Obama carried 75 percent of them, the exit poll data show.

The Supreme Court upheld the law's constitutionality in 2012. Numerous Republican efforts to derail the law in Congress have gone nowhere. And future attempts will prove futile so long as Democrats control the White House and Senate.

In short, it isn't going anywhere anytime soon, regardless of public opinion.

Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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Chris Cillizza | March 11, 2013