Judas Joe Lieberman Strikes Again” “Your Healthcare Can Wait, And Wait And…
With reporting by Laura Dean
Sen. Joseph Lieberman affirmed on Tuesday what progressive health care reform advocates have long feared: At this juncture, he is likely to oppose a public option for health insurance coverage.
The Connecticut independent made his latest criticisms of a public option in an interview with the New Haven Independent. Weeks earlier, he told Bloomberg News that he didn't favor such an approach that might level the insurance industry market.
For Democrats, it was a shot to the gut -- the latest so-called centrist lawmaker from within their own party ranks speaking out against one of their most cherished aspects of health care reform. For all the angst Lieberman has caused within Democratic circles the past few years, he was supposed to be an ally on domestic issues.
But was it all that unexpected? Those close to the senator argue that he has always been skeptical of large government involvement in the health care industry and that he has always advocated for a more incremental approach to health care reform.
"He has been very consistent in trying to seek innovative approaches to try and get to universal health care coverage," said Dan Gerstein, a former aide. "When he was part of the '00 ticket, he supported Al Gore's step-by-step approach to getting health care reform, which at the time many progressives were very supportive of. This is not a debate about goals for him. This is a debate about means, both in terms of what makes sense on a policy basis and what is obtainable."
This certainly was the role Lieberman played during the last major reform effort. During the heart of the Clinton-era debate over the how to restructure the health care system, the then-Democrat was a constant thorn in the administration's side. As early as December 1993, he was calling the Clinton plan "too governmental, too regulatory and too costly." A supporter of a moderate bill championed by then Sen. John Breaux, Lieberman would add the descriptions "too big" and "too bureaucratic" to Clinton's approach several months later.
By the summer of 2004, Lieberman was attacking the notion that employers should be required to provide health care for their workers, arguing that there was "a universal consensus" against the idea. He pledged to try and strip the provision from Majority Leader George Mitchell's health care proposal. He also said he was willing to take a look at the plan put forth by the then Minority Leader, Sen. Bob Dole, which was structured largely after the approach then-candidate George H.W. Bush had promoted during the '92 campaign.
Last week, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), the most conservative member of the so-called bipartisan “Gang of Six” working on the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill, stated that he preferred that Congress deal with reform incrementally. “I think the only way it will happen is we need to break it down into smaller parts than we have now and put it through one at a time,” he said.
Today on CNN, Sen. Joe Lieberman (CT), an Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, embraced Enzi’s idea. “Great changes in our country often have come in steps. The Civil Rights movement occurred, changes occurred in steps,” he argued. Lieberman added that Congress should address the nearly 50 million uninsured at some point down the road:
LIEBERMAN: Morally, everyone of us would like to cover every American with health insurance but that’s where you spend most of the trillion dollars plus, or a little less that is estimated, the estimate said this health care plan will cost. And I’m afraid we’ve got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy is out of recession. There’s no reason we have to do it all now.
Later, host John King asked Lieberman if he would vote with the Democrats if the reconciliation process is used to pass health care. “I think it’s a real mistake to try to jam through the total health insurance reform,” Lieberman said, adding, “It’s just not good for the system. Frankly, it won’t be good for the Obama presidency.” Watch it:
Noting that the insured currently pay for the uninsured through rising premiums, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) challenged Lieberman’s approach. “We’ve got to bring down the cost of health care,” he argued. “It’s difficult to do that by ignoring those who don’t have health insurance today.” A New York Times editorial today agreed:
If nothing is done to slow current trends, the number of people in this country without insurance or with inadequate coverage will continue to spiral upward. That would be a personal tragedy for many and a moral disgrace for the nation. It is also by no means cost-free. Any nation as rich as ours ought to guarantee health coverage for all of its residents.
Yet, Lieberman still sides with the Republicans on health care reform. “Joe Lieberman is not some right-wing nutcase,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said last November defending Lieberman against anger over his support for John McCain’s candidacy for president. “Joe Lieberman is one of the most progressive people ever to come from the state of Connecticut.”
Boy Did The Derelicts At Newsmax And Fox Jump On This In A Hurry!
Sunday, August 23, 2009 2:18 PM
One of the Senate's most powerful Democrats said Sunday that President Obama should take an "incremental" approach to fixing health care and argued that the country should postpone adding nearly 50 million new patients to the government system until after the recession is over.
"We morally, every one of us, would like to cover every American with health insurance," Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, told CNN's John King on the "State of the Union" program.
"But that's where you spend most of the $1 trillion plus, a little less that is estimated, the estimate said this healthcare plan will cost," he said.
"I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy's out of recession," he added.
"There's no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started. And I think the place to start is health delivery reform and insurance market reforms."
John King asked Lieberman if it was "time for the president to hit the reset button? Forget sweeping healthcare reform this year, do three or four incremental things that are less costly?"
Lieberman responded: "In a word, yes. I don't think -- I give the president tremendous credit for taking on the healthcare problem. And it really is a problem that we've got to deal with. But he took it on at a very difficult time that was not of his making.
"In other words, we're in a recession. People are very worried about their jobs, about the economic future. They've watched us add to the debt of this country. We're projected to run a $1.8 trillion deficit this year, September 30th, more than $1 trillion next year. You mentioned the 10-year numbers. People are nervous, I think the protests coming out at the public meetings around the country this month are as much to do with that larger environment as they are with questions about healthcare reform. I think great changes in our country often have come in steps. The civil rights movement occurred — changes occurred in steps. Let's focus now on how to reduce costs. That's been a central theme of the president.
"Let's talk about how to change the way health care is delivered. Let's talk about protecting people from not getting insurance because of pre-existing illness. Let's take off the caps on the amount of insurance coverage you can get over the years. Let's pay for preventive services for health from the first dollar. Here's the tough one. We morally, every one of us, would like to cover every American with health insurance. But that's where you spend most of the $1 trillion plus, a little less that is estimated, the estimate said this healthcare plan will cost."
Lieberman also said he oppose any attempt his colleagues to use a Senate maneuver called "reconciliation," in which only 51 votes — rather than 60 — would be needed to overcome opposition to a health care bill.
"I think it's a real mistake to try to jam through the total health insurance reform, healthcare reform plan that the public is either opposed to or of very, very passionate mixed minds about," he said. "It's just not good for the system, frankly, it won't be good for the Obama presidency."
© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.