And he was probably wise, at least at first, to let Congress take the lead — rather than coming up with a huge plan of his own, like the Clintons did in 1993. [But] Obama should have stepped up his own leadership in shaping legislation in June rather than September, in my view — and he has been too reluctant to make a strong case for a public option to expand choices and control costs for all Americans. But, all the same, he has gotten Congress to move this along.

YOU ARGUE IN BOOMERANG THAT PRESIDENT CLINTON’S HEALTH CARE REFORM PUSH SERVED AS A POWERFUL RALLYING CALL FOR REPUBLICANS DETERMINED TO MAKE GAINS IN CONGRESS. DOES THE CURRENT EFFORT HAVE ANYTHING APPROACHING THE SAME POTENCY FOR THE GOP?
The GOP leadership thinks it can repeat 1994 by defeating Obama and the Democrats on comprehensive health reform. I don’t think they can defeat them — something is going to pass — and if they did entirely defeat reform, the Republicans might get a lot of blame from the mass public.

America is a more diverse and less conservative country now, outside the South, and people are more open, cautiously, to a governmental role in ensuring coverage and lowering costs.

On the other hand, if the Democrats pass half-way, under-funded reforms — for example forcing all Americans to buy costly private insurance without good subsidies for the lower middle class, and without a public option to offer lower prices — then the Republicans have a ready-made set of tools to hammer the reforms after they pass.

Progressive Democrats, meanwhile, will be so bitter about inadequate reforms that they will stop organizing and writing checks, which will hurt Democrats in upcoming elections.

But if the Democrats pass good reforms, even if they cost a bit more than they should, and if Republican scare-claims do not come true, then Democrats can reap political advantages for many years to come.

We will see what happens. It could go either way.

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