In 1972, Sen. Ted Kennedy and President Richard Nixon held secret negotiations on legislation that would, for the first time, require all companies to provide a health care plan for their employees, with federal subsidies for low-income workers. The negotiations broke down on Kennedy's side because labor unions wanted more.

Later in his career, Kennedy realized the mistake he had made: "When it comes to historic breakthroughs in social policy, make the best deal you can get, leaving it to subsequent generations to perfect" (Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, Aug. 28, 2009).

Although I vehemently disagree with the Legislature's modifications to Proposition 2, I think that all of us who supported the proposition would do well to remember the lesson Kennedy learned. Half a loaf is better than none.

David R. Zangrilli, Sandy