A serious credibility gap has emerged between President Obama and voters over healthcare, with 72 percent saying his promise to enact a deficit-neutral overhaul of healthcare is a whopper.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that by a 72 to 21 percent margin, Americans do not believe the president will keep his promise to enact healthcare reform without adding to the federal budget deficit.
And by 57 percent to 37 percent, voters say healthcare reform should be dropped if it is going to add "significantly" to the deficit.
Based on interviewed with 2,400 likely voters, the poll reflects a deepening skepticism toward Obama's plans to transform the nation's healthcare system, which accounts for one-sixth of U.S. economic activity.
"President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders in Congress appear to be losing the public relations war over their plan to revamp the nation's healthcare system," observes Peter A. Brown, the polling institute's assistant director.
"Americans are more willing to scrap a healthcare overhaul than they are to increase the deficit in order to produce such legislation," he adds. "That's a bad omen for the White House and Congressional leadership as they try to sell their plan to the country this month before the vote counting gets serious on Capitol Hill in September."
The Quinnipiac survey suggests that, despite Obama's insistence to the contrary, voters believe healthcare reform is going to add to the nation's growing tsunami of red ink.
On July 29, during a town hall meeting at a Raleigh, N.C., high school, the president assured his audience: "I will not sign a healthcare bill that is not deficit-neutral, that is not paid for."
The president and Democrats in Congress have proposed various methods of making healthcare reform "deficit neutral," but so far the Congressional Budget Office has shot down various cost-saving proposals as ineffective.
Other indications of growing voter discontent with Obama's performance on the healthcare issue: By 52 percent to 39 percent, voters say they disapprove of the Obama's handling of healthcare.
By 59 to 36, they say Congress should not pass healthcare reform unless they can enlist Republican support for it.
Only 21 percent say they expect the reforms will improve the quality of care they receive. Another 39 percent says it will make no difference one way or the other.
By a 55 to 35 margin, voters are more worried Congress will spend too much money and run up the deficit than they are concerned Congress will fail to act to overhaul the nation's healthcare system.
The poll also indicates the all-important independent voters are slipping away from Obama. Among independents, 59 percent to 36 percent say healthcare reform would substantially increase the federal deficit. And by 77 percent to 17 percent, they say Obama can't keep his promise of instituting healthcare reform while holding the line on the deficit.
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