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Sunday Guests Fret Public Naivete on ObamaCare Benefits as Friedman Blames Poor Communication

Reeling from the possibility the Supreme Court might undermine ObamaCare, two members in good standing of the liberal media elite, both with the New York Times, took to the Sunday shows to lament the lack of public recognition for the great benefits of the law. “On health care,” columnist Tom Friedman rationalized on NBC’s Meet the Press, “that’s partly a failure of communication.”

A befuddled Friedman advanced the liberal narrative that blames communication, not facts, as he wondered: “How do you go a year and a half where so many Americans don’t even understand the benefits of this legislation when they apply to them? And that gets to this administration, which I think has been abysmal at communicating some of its most important agenda items.”

That framework would make a lot more sense if applied to a conservative President facing a media hostile to his policies. That’s certainly not th case with this administration where the media have been consistently promoting Obamacare.

(Actor George Clooney offered a similar formulation on last week’s Meet the Press: "George Clooney: If Obama Were a Republican He’d Be Considered ‘Very Successful’”)

Over on ABC’s This Week, Matt Bai assured the roundtable the public will come around to embracing the benefits once they realize “all the good things that could come” from ObamaCare:

The history of big social legislation like this that there is this period before it kicks in, before people get used to the benefits, where there’s a lot of anxiety. The government is doing something big, it’s expensive, and then the benefits kick in and people start to build their life decisions around it and suddenly it’s an entitlement and you can just never change it, even if you should. We’re still in that interregnum period here. And I think there’s a lot of anxiety in the public, but there’s not a sense of all the good things that could come...People aren’t really aware of what the law does in a lot of cases.

Bai stumbled into why conservatives are so anxious to kill ObamaCare: Once people become dependent on it, “you can just never change it.”

From the April 1 Meet the Press roundtable, moderated by Joe Scarborough who cued up Friedman:

TOM FRIEDMAN: On all these big issues -- energy, health care, education -- we seem only capable of sub-optimal solutions. Sub-optimal solutions that lack any kind of, you know, planning, due diligence. Everything feels like some Rube Goldberg contraption that we cobble together at the last minute.

JOE SCARBOROUH: In this case, Tom, we cobble together a piece of legislation that Chuck Schumer is saying, a year and a half later, the American people don’t understand but when they understand it, two-thirds of them won’t be against it. Doesn’t that just speak -- they’re the problem.

FRIEDMAN: Yeah, there are two issues there I say. How long do we remain a great country when all we can do, on biggest challenges we face, are produce sub-optimal outcomes. On health care -- that’s partly a failure of communication, it seem to me. How do you go a year and a half where so many Americans don’t even understand the benefits of this legislation when they apply to them? And that gets to this administration, which I think has been abysmal at communicating some of its most important agenda items.

From the roundtable on ABC’s This Week:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: I want to bring this to you, Matt Bai, a lot of debate on if this goes down – let’s assume that for just a second – how big a blow this is to President Obama or is it in some way liberating to him going into the general election?

MATT MAI, NEW YORK TIMES: You know, for reasons Terry [Moran] was just talking about, I think it’s kind of a political loser either way for the President in a sense, because the history of big social legislation like this that there is this period before it kicks in, before people get used to the benefits, where there’s a lot of anxiety. The government is doing something big, it’s expensive, and then the benefits kick in and people start to build their life decisions around it and suddenly it’s an entitlement and you can just never change it, even if you should. We’re still in that interregnum period here. And I think there’s a lot of anxiety in the public, but there’s not a sense of all the good things that could come.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, some of the benefits.

BAI: Some have kicked in. But the exchanges don’t go up until 2014. People aren’t really aware of what the law does in a lot of cases. So, I think for the President to be re-litigating this, either legally or politically, is actually not especially helpful for him politically.