Criticisms of Health Law Resonate - But Repeal Is Another Matter

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On the eve of a repeal vote in the House, more Americans continue to oppose than support the health care reform law, with broad suspicions it'll hurt the economy, boost the deficit and -- by a narrower margin -- cut jobs. But repealing it is another matter.

Forty-six percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll think the law is likely to cut jobs, 8 points more than think it'll create them. More, 54 percent think it's more apt to hurt than help the economy. And 62 percent see it as increasing rather than decreasing the federal deficit.

For all that, fewer than four in 10 -- 37 percent -- favor repealing all or parts of the law; the rest either support it, or want to wait and see. And just 18 percent favor repealing it entirely, as the Republican leadership in Congress seeks to do.

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The results underscore the public's love-hate relationship with the law, which contains popular elements (e.g., extending coverage) with unpopular ones (e.g., paying for it). It appeals to worries about future coverage and costs -- but also raises concerns about its effects, wrapped in skepticism about government involvement in the health care system.

On balance this poll, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds that 50 percent of Americans oppose the health care reform law overall, while 45 percent support it -- similar to the record 52-43 percent negative verdict last month. That was its only foray into outright majority opposition; it's never received outright majority support.

Opposition comes mostly, but not entirely, from people who say the law does too much. Critics include 35 percent of Americans who say the law goes too far in changing the health care system -- but also 13 percent who say it doesn't go far enough. Among the law's supporters, moreover, more than half say it "should have done more," although they'll take it anyway.

JOBS -- Opponents of the measure have characterized it as a jobs killer, and that charge does have some resonance, albeit with less than majority sign-up. As noted, 46 percent of Americans think it's more likely to cut the number of jobs in this country, vs. 38 percent who think it's more apt to create jobs -- an 8-point tilt to the negative.

There's broad partisanship in this view: 67 percent of Republicans think the reform law will cut jobs; 59 percent of Democrats think it'll create them. As so often is the case, the tide shifts with independents, who, by 51-33 percent, see job losses as more likely.

ECONOMY, DEFICIT -- Jobs are a salient issue at a time of more than 9 percent unemployment. But other concerns in fact gain greater purchase: Americans by a 15-point margin, 54-39 percent, suspect the law will hurt rather than help the economy overall. And most broadly, by 62-29 percent, the public thinks it's more likely to increase than decrease the federal deficit.

On both of these, again, the partisan divisions are broad. But notably, even among Democrats nearly half (46 percent) think the law is more likely to increase the deficit; that rises to 66 percent of independents and 78 percent of Republicans. (The Congressional Budget Office, by contrast, has projected that the law will reduce the deficit, and repeal would increase it.)

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