How optimistic do you feel about healthcare reform passing?
I feel very optimistic. A lot of people said I'd never be able to get a bill out of my committee, which is the most diverse of any of the House committees with jurisdiction. It involves Democrats from different regions and a broad spectrum of political philosophy, yet we were able to do it. We did it because the "blue dog" conservative Democrats had objections that were reasonable, and we worked through those objections. So I think it's doable. It's going to get done. There's greater similarity between all the bills than most people realize. They all stop insurance practices that are abusive. They all require that we put into place efforts to hold down healthcare costs, and they provide a mechanism for everybody to get insurance coverage.
How important is it that the bill be bipartisan?
I think it's always important for legislation to be bipartisan. But you don't always achieve that goal. If the Republicans don't want it because they want to deny Obama a political success, you don't stop your efforts. I think they make a serious mistake trying to make this a partisan fight. They are looking at the playbook from 1993 and 1994 where the Republicans pulled someone like Bob Dole back from working out a deal on
healthcare in order to deny President Clinton a victory. And they were rewarded in the election in '94. They are playing that same card again, but this time it's not going to work.
Why should the president read your book?
I think it could give him a point of view on how compromises and coalitions can be put together and special interests can be backed down.