The message is no accident, as the president’s chief pollster made clear in a rare public speech last month. Joel Benenson told the Economic Club of Canada that extensive polling revealed to the White House what many there had guessed: People hate insurance companies.
“Take the public plan, for example,” Benenson said. “Initial reaction to it wasn’t as positive as it is now. . . . But we figured out that people like the idea of competition versus the insurance company, and that’s why you get a number like 72 percent supporting it.”
Earlier in the speech in Toronto, Benenson said bluntly that people “think the insurance companies have been the villains here, not the government.”
Even if that is the case, recent polling also shows growing public anxiety about what health-care change would mean to them, and about the role of government in any new system.