Senator Jay Rockefeller’s recent comments about Obamacare and racism have sparked a mini-firestorm of controversy.
Luckily, we have Ezra Klein to Voxsplain the situation..
Racists are likelier to oppose health reform when they think about Barack Obama
On Wednesday, Sen. Jay Rockefeller argued that some of the opposition to Obamacare is motivated by race. Rockefeller wasn’t particularly artful in his comments and it’s easy to see why Sen. Ron Johnson was offended. But Rockefeller is right.
Michael Tesler, a political scientist at Brown University, studied this question by looking at the role racial attitudes played in people’s health-care opinions before and after Barack Obama became the face of health-care reform. Since 1988, the American National Election Study has been asking people what they believe about both race and health care.
Prior to Obama’s election, Tesler found that race had “a substantively small and non-significant independent influence” on people health-care opinions. But that changed in the September 2009 data. “Racial attitudes were strongly linked to health care opinions in that post-Obama survey.” After controlling for party and self-reported ideology, “changing from least to most racially resentful decreased white support for governmental insurance by 20 percent,” That was three times larger than the effect seen in most surveys and twice as large as the effect seen in 1994 (the survey following the collapse of President Bill Clinton’s health-reform plan).
Klein’s article was widely mocked on Twitter.
And of course, Klein made the obligatory appearance on MSNBC to continue making his case. Liberals have made this same lazy argument about opposition to Obama policies so many times it’s difficult to keep track. Watch the video below.
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