Saturday, June 30, 2012

Do entitlement programs become more popular over time?

Some supporters [of the Affordable Care Act] have argued that other social programs in the past were controversial at first before becoming embedded in American society. But polling suggests that is not so.

Social Security was popular from the start, supported by 73 percent of Americans in early 1937 and 78 percent the next year in Gallup polls. Medicare had the approval of 62 percent in early 1965 and 82 percent by the end of that year in Harris polls.

By contrast, just 32 percent supported the Affordable Care Act when it was approved in March 2010, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll. As of a month ago, 34 percent supported it, virtually unchanged. To be sure, about a fifth of those who oppose it say it did not go far enough, essentially frustrated liberals.