Truth Squad: Does distrust in feds equal health care repeal?

Newt Gingrich said the country's distrust of Washington and fear of centralized medicine would create pressure to repeal the health care act during Thursday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina.

The statement: "The American people are frightened of bureaucratic, centralized medicine. They deeply distrust Washington. The pressure will be to repeal it." -- Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, on the Obama administration's signature health-care law.

The facts:

Americans generally "distrust Washington," according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll conducted in September. Only 2% of Americans said they could "just about always" trust the federal government, while 77% said they could only trust it some of the time. Another poll earlier this month found President Barack Obama's approval rating at 49%, while approval of Congress had plunged to 11%.

By comparison, in 1958 -- before the war in Vietnam, Watergate and the revelations that spilled out of Washington in their aftermath -- 73% of Americans said they could trust the federal government all or most of the time.

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    Fact check: Gingrich on health reform

Fact check: Gingrich on health reform 01:45
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But Gingrich is off when he characterizes public opinion as building up pressure behind a promised repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the law Republicans call "Obamacare." A CNN/ORC poll in November found that while the bill remains unpopular, some of the opposition comes from people who don't think it went far enough toward establishing universal health insurance.

Asked whether they approved or disapproved of the health-care law, much of which has yet to take effect, only 38% said they favored it; 56% said they were opposed. But only 37% said they opposed it because it went too far; an additional 14% said they opposed it because it wasn't liberal enough.

    And while the public remains divided over the idea of requiring all Americans to buy health insurance -- the cornerstone of the law -- opposition has softened over the past year. Another November poll by CNN found 52% favored mandatory health insurance, up from 44% in June; opposition dropped from 54% in June to 47% in November.

    The verdict: Misleading. Gingrich is right that there is a widespread distrust of Washington, but that doesn't appear to be translating into more support for repealing one of the most controversial acts of the Obama administration to date.