President Obama told governors Monday that he endorsed the idea of states opting out of the Affordable Care Act as early as 2014 if they could offer similar coverage to as many people without inflating the deficit. In the president’s very public words, he would “go to bat for whatever works.”
The same day, the White House said something altogether different during an off-the-record conference call to allies on the Left. The flexibility stressed on the private conference call involved allowing single-payer plans and more purely government-run health care at the state level. A source who spilled the beans on the discussion to Politico observed: “They are trying to split the baby here: on one hand they tell supporters this is good for their pet issues, versus a message for the general public that the POTUS is responding to what he is hearing and that he is being sensible.”
What explains two very different messages on one day by the very same White House?
A recent “State of the States” Gallup poll sheds much to light on why the Obama administration’s media message would differ from its by-invitation only, off-the-record conference call. Gallup’s poll shows that the United States is a conservative country.
Even in the most liberal states—Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts—conservatives outnumber liberals. In every state, liberal identifiers trail conservative identifiers. The ratio is about 2-1 in Pennsylvania, 3-1 in Wyoming, and almost 4-1 in Mississippi, the state where the largest percentage—over 50 percent—of the population identify as conservatives. Certainly, regions of the country differ. The South tends to be more conservative and the northeast relatively more liberal. But in 50 of 50 states, more respondents identify as conservatives than as liberals.
That hostile political environment for liberals fosters interesting self-preservation techniques.
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