Continued from page 1

Mr. Trumka said it was a bad idea to take a “public option” off the table during debate over the law in Congress, arguing that a government-run standard would have instilled competition in insurance markets dominated by one or two large insurers.

“That, to me, was a mistake,” he said.

On a separate issue, the AFL-CIO chief said he was leaning toward Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairwoman Janet Yellen as his preferred choice to succeed Ben S. Bernanke this fall as the nation’s top central banker. Supporters of Ms. Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers are engaged in an unexpectedly fierce lobbying war as Mr. Obama weighs his choice.

“History would indicate that [Ms. Yellen] is for a much more balanced approach, and thus a better approach, than Larry Summers has” been, Mr. Trumka said. “If he continues to say we’re only going to deal with inflation, then we would not support that because that’s been corrosive for the country and bad for the economy.”

⦁ Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.