The Populism Problem by James Surowiecki

The New Yorker, February 15, 2010

And, while voters routinely say that the rising cost of health care is a problem, it is the bills’ cost-control provisions—including a tax on expensive insurance plans and rules to restrain Medicare spending—that have proved especially unpopular. On top of this, many people are just annoyed with the whole process: a survey of voters who supported Obama in 2008 but voted for Scott Brown in the recent Massachusetts Senate race found that forty-one per cent of those who opposed health-care reform weren’t sure whether reform went too far or not far enough. In short, they don’t know why they’re against reform; they just are. It’s a bit like Marlon Brando in “The Wild One.” Asked what he’s rebelling against, he says, “Whaddya got?”

One thing voters do want is jobs. But even here populist sentiment is at odds with itself. People want the government to help provide jobs, but they also want it to cut the deficit. [Read more at The New Yorker]

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