How Many Believe Absurd GOP Lies About Health Reform?

Turns out, more than you'd think.

AN AWFULLY BIG 'FRINGE'.... There have always been at least two key angles to the right-wing attacks against health care reform: 1) the willingness of conservatives to lie; and 2) the willingness of the public to believe the lies. It's one thing for prominent far-right voices to talk up imaginary "death panels," for example, but who's going to believe such garbage? We're talking about a radical, isolated fringe, right?

Wrong. A Research 2000 poll for Daily Kos, in what I believe is the first national poll on the question, gauged public opinion on this. Respondents were asked whether the reform proposals under consideration would create "death panels" that would dictate medical care based on Americans' "productivity in society." Nearly three-fourths of the public (72%) said no, 11% said yes, and 17% weren't sure. But of greater interest were the partisan numbers.

Democrats and independents rejected the claim in large numbers, but here were the results for self-identified Republicans:

Yes: 26%
No: 43%
Not sure: 31%

There were similar results on related questions. Republicans, unlike Democrats and independents, also believe reform would "require elderly patients to meet with government officials to discuss 'end of life' options including euthanasia," and consider reform to be a government "takeover" of the health care system. Neither claim is true.

On a more comical note, Republicans were also far more likely to believe that Medicare is not a government program than anyone else. While only 7% of Democrats were confused about Medicare, the number of Republicans who believe Medicare isn't a government program was twice as high (14%).


Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."
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