So, that's basically a blank slate that you can write on. But one of the things that the Republicans have a problem with here, when they say, as we just heard Senator Graham saying over and over, you don't want a bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor. What people now have is an insurance agent standing between them and their doctor and everybody knows that. That is not some myth anymore, that we used to not understand how important insurance companies were. Now, your doctor tells you all the time how important they are.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That's an important point because I think the success, Sam, of how far the president's going to be able to keep on pushing this, is if he can convince people that what we have now is much worse than what they're going to get.
DONALDSON: Well if we could just lower our health care costs as they increase, by 1.5 percent, we would solve our budgetary problems. Look, the president has to get into this. They're kind of waiting in the sidelines. Next month, he's got to have to make his choices and he's got to them there. They can't write the bill on Capitol Hill. Nancy Pelosi says, without a government option, there will be no bill. You heard Senator Graham this morning, never pass the Senate. He is going to have to put his prestige on the line. Let's get it done now. If you have to use a Wilbur Mills surtax.
STEPHANOPOULOS: What's a Wilbur Mills surtax?
DONALDSON: Vietnam War, Lyndon Johnson wanted to pay for the war. Wilbur Mills, before that, the powerful chairman of the Ways and Means Committee got through a $50 a head for income tax surtax. Let's pay for it. In the long run, we're cheaper and we cover people and we're healthier.
REICH: You know, the worry here is that the president may have -- and the White House staff, may have over learned the lesson of the Clinton health care plan fiasco, which was don't deliver a package to the Hill. Let the Hill take ownership.
And that was true up to a point. But I think that Sam is absolutely right. Right now, the president has to get involved, twist arms. And say, if I don't have "A," "B," and "C," I'm not going to sign this bill.
ROBERTS: Except that there's a great advantage to the investment of time and ownership that members of Congress are placing on this measure because, at some point, if they are -- have done so much work on it, they want to see it completed.
REICH: Yes, Cokie. But we've reached a tipping point. I think the problem is, there's so many different bills up there, there's so many different conceptions of where the money's going to come from, whether there's going to be a mandate, whether there's going to be a public option, what the public option is going to look like, that there's no coherence. The president has got to get in there and give it coherence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And George, I want to bring this back to you because I think Bob is right in part, about 1994. Here's what I wonder, though.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There was a point in '93, '94, it started out 22 Republican senators for universal health care. As the debate continued over a long period of time, the politics changed. It wouldn't matter what was in the bill at the end. The Republican Party decided they weren't going to go along with this.