The second argument supporters make is that voters don’t know what’s in the bill, but would like it if they did. At the end of January, senior White House adviser David Axelrod argued that Democrats should proceed with passage by telling ABC’s This Week that “people will never know what’s in that bill until we pass it.” This, too, is unconvincing.
In fact, survey evidence shows that voters are well aware of the bill’s major components, including the “benefits” that liberals believe will make the bill popular. According to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 72 percent are aware that the bill provides subsidies to help people purchase insurance, 63 percent are aware that it requires insurance companies to offer a minimum benefits package, 61 percent know that the bill prohibits insurers from refusing to provide coverage, and 62 percent know that it expands Medicaid coverage for low-income individuals. A large majority—68 percent—is even aware that the bill will raise revenue by increasing taxes for the rich.
Considered in the context of the public’s general level of political knowledge, this counts as widespread penetration. According to a January 2010 survey by the Pew Center for People and the Press, for example, only 39 percent of Americans know that Harry Reid is majority leader in the Senate, and only 26 percent know that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate.