Polls: Majority of Americans Still at Odds with Obama on Health-Care Costs, Border Security

By Christopher Neefus | March 23, 2010 | 12:03 AM EDT

In this Jan. 17, 2007 file photo, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers arrest a suspect during a pre-dawn raid in Santa Ana, Calif. (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Health-care reform legislation may have finally passed Congress and a comprehensive immigration reform bill is forthcoming, but Americans are still at odds with President Obama on those key issues, according to new polls.
On health care, Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have consistently spoken of “bending the cost curve” downward, but a new Rasmussen poll finds that a majority of likely voters believes cost remains the biggest problem in the health care system, and that the new reform bill will actually drive the cost of care up, not down.
The polling firm asked respondents about the problems they see in the current system: “What is the biggest problem with health care -- the lack of universal coverage, the cost, the inconvenience of scheduling or the quality of care?”
Fifty-four (54) percent chose cost over any other problem. Just 24 percent of voters thought lack of universal coverage was the foremost problem. Only 11 percent identified quality of care as the biggest concern and just 2 percent picked inconvenience of scheduling.
After the Senate’s version of health care reform passed the House of Representatives late Sunday night (by a 219-212 vote), the House speaker reiterated what she said all week: that she believed the bill would cut costs, saying it would build a “fiscally sound” future for America.
Voters, however, are unconvinced. Fifty-seven (57) percent told the pollster they believe the health-care plan, when enacted, will cause prices to go up contrary to the stated goal of reform. Just 17 percent of likely voters believe the president’s pitch that the cost of care will go down. 

Democrats in Congress passed the health-care bill passed despite of voter skepticism and in spite of opinion polls that have consistently shown Americans opposed to the plan. 

Now congressional Democrats are poised to tackle immigration reform, legislation which Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) have been working on drafting for months. 

The legislation, an outline of which Schumer and Graham unveiled last week, will include a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants already in the country, a guest worker program to allow people to more readily move across the border, and a high-tech biometric Social Security card that would be used by employers to verify a worker’s status. It would also allow employers to hire illegal immigrants only if they could not find an American for the job position.
But Americans disagree with this approach. According to Rasmussen, fully 68 percent of likely voters say controlling the border is more important than legalizing those undocumented workers already living here in the U.S. Just 26 percent held the opposite view.
Rasmussen also found that 67 percent said illegal immigrants represent “a significant strain” on the federal budget and 66 percent say the availability of U.S. government services draw immigrants here.
Interestingly, 45 percent say it is somewhat likely that Congress will pass law creating a pathway to citizenship this year, while just 20 percent think it is likely Congress will pass any law that gets better control of the border. 

Meanwhile, voters are also skeptical about the administration’s handling of border security.

Rasmussen found last week that just 26 percent of likely voters agree with the Obama administration’s decision to halt funding for constructing its virtual border fence, known as SBInet. 

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who as governor of Arizona opposed the border fence, announced last Tuesday she was freezing funding for the program and redirecting extra stimulus funding from SBInet to other border security initiatives.

“Not only do we have an obligation to secure our borders,” she said in a statement, “we have a responsibility to do so in the most cost effective way possible. The system of sensors and cameras along the Southwest border known as SBInet has been plagued with cost overruns and missed deadlines.”

Boeing, the company contracted to build and implement the technology, is reportedly two years behind on the project and is still trying to work on the first section of the fence, a 28-mile stretch in Arizona. 

But a full 59 percent of Americans said the administration should continue building the fence along the U.S. border with Mexico, stretching from Brownsville to San Ysidro. Only 15 percent were not sure. 

Those numbers show little change over the past few years, falling between the 60 percent approval last January and the 56 percent recorded by Rasmussen in August 2007. 

The freeze is in effect until a complete survey of the fence’s progress, which Napolitano ordered in January, can be completed. 

The polls all carry a margin of error of +/- 3 percentage points, surveyed 1,000 likely voters, and were conducted in March 2010.