The failure of free markets during the financial crisis might have led people to think that the government should be more involved in the economy. Instead, the percentage of Americans who think government is trying to do too much is higher than it’s been since the late nineties. Health-care reform offers a case study in this. The bills passed by Congress, whatever their flaws, would do things that voters overwhelmingly say they support: extend coverage to the uninsured, ban the worst practices of insurers, and guarantee insurance for people who lose their jobs. Yet more voters now oppose the bills than support them, with many saying that the government is overreaching. And, while voters routinely say that the rising cost of health care is a problem, it is the bills’ cost-control provisions—including a tax on expensive insurance plans and rules to restrain Medicare spending—that have proved especially unpopular. On top of this, many people are just annoyed with the whole process: a survey of voters who supported Obama in 2008 but voted for Scott Brown in the recent Massachusetts Senate race found that forty-one per cent of those who opposed health-care reform weren’t sure whether reform went too far or not far enough. In short, they don’t know why they’re against reform; they just are.
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