Sure, Obama and Congress have been hurt in the polls by the recent discussion of healthcare, a personal and complicated topic for Americans. But what would the public’s perception of President Obama and Congress be like if they weren’t discussing healthcare?
Much of Obama’s support last November came from his promise to reform our increasingly costly and ineffective healthcare system. If he didn’t talk about it now, or at any time in his presidency, he would be seen as reneging on his campaign promise in order to avoid the bitter struggle that any healthcare reform would involve. He would suffer in the polls more than he is now.
Most Americans realize our current healthcare system can’t be sustained and support some kind of reform. Even Republicans admit that some action must be taken. Any substantial attempt at reform, however, is bound to make a majority of Americans worry about the federal debt, the expansion of the federal government, and the future of their current plans, however inadequate they may be.
While healthcare is a touchy issue that will give a headache to whatever politician has the balls to deal with it, it is not a “third rail.” At this time, inaction would harm Obama and Congress even more in the public eye than action.