CBS News poll: Most Americans don’t want to strip healthcare law of its funding

Washington Bureau

Even as Republicans attempt to de-fund the president’s healthcare overhaul on the House floor this week, a new poll suggests that they should proceed with caution.

The CBS News poll, conducted over the weekend, shows that although most Americans dislike the healthcare law, they also disapprove of the GOP’s attempts to cut off funding for the sweeping measure.

The seeming paradox is partially explained by a growing number of Americans -- 44% -- who are unsure about what the law actually does and doesn’t do. Some of the benefits of the law, such as a provision that permits post-college-age children to remain on their parents’ insurance plans, are already in operation. Others, such as state insurance exchanges, won’t be in place for at least two years.


After Republicans were unable to secure enough votes in the Senate earlier this month to repeal the healthcare law, their attention turned to de-funding it through the appropriations process.

With an extended debate underway in the House on a 2011 spending bill, Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Montana) Wednesday introduced an amendment that would cut off all funding for the law.

“The House already passed legislation to repeal Obamacare, fulfilling the promise we made to the American people,” Rehberg said in a statement. “ My amendment prevents funding from being used to implement Obamacare while we continue to work for a full legislative or judicial repeal.”

Rehberg is running for the U.S. Senate seat in Montana held by Democratic Sen. Jon Tester.

According to the CBS poll, 51% of Americans surveyed disapproved of the law (compared with just 33% in favor), and 55% disapproved of the GOP’s de-funding plan, with 35% approving.

The biggest danger for the GOP? Forty-nine percent of independents, who will be crucial to Republican hopes for securing the White House and Senate in 2012, don’t like the idea of stripping out funding for the law.


The worst news for Democrats: The law is still wildly unpopular -- and only 21% of those responding believe it will make the healthcare system better; 23% believe it will make it worse.

According to the poll, President Obama’s approval rating sits at 48%, close to where he’s been in multiple polls for some time now. Congress’ approval rating is about half of that, which actually is an improvement.

As Obama and Republican leaders have escalated their battle over reducing the federal budget deficit, the poll shows that both sides are trusted equally by the public on the issue.

Although the GOP would like to be on the higher side of that equation, the White House also has grounds for worry: Only 37% of Americans polled believed the economy was improving.