Lieberman single-handedly keeps American families from affordable healthcare

Let’s start with an excerpt from today’s piece in The New Republic by Jonathan Cohn:

The public option is dead this morning. And this time, it isn’t coming back to life. The Senate isn’t going to include any version of the idea in its bill. And while the House can still demand a public option in conference, nobody I know expects the House to prevail.

The primary causes of death were the fierce opposition of special interests and the institutional habits of the United States Senate, in which a clear majority of senators representing an even clearer majority of the people lack the power to pass a bill. The time of death? Somewhere around 6:30 p.m. last night, during a meeting of the Democratic caucus, in which Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the votes for a public option just weren’t there–and that passing a health care reform bill, as quickly as possible, was too important to risk further debate and delay.

After the meeting, even stalwart public option defenders like Sherrod Brown and Jay Rockefeller signaled their grudging agreement. And that’s because they knew Reid was right. The Majority Leader had spent most of the last month trying to round up the votes for a public option and, when the votes weren’t there, he put negotiators in a room to come up with an acceptable compromise. They did, only it still wasn’t acceptable enough for Senator Joe Lieberman. And without Lieberman, the Democrats couldn’t move forward, at least not without great risk to the broader project. At the end of the day, Brown and Rockefeller and their allies simply care too much about people struggling with their medical bills–people who would still benefit, clearly, from reform without a public option–to mount further resistance. Lieberman, by all appearances, felt no compunction to put people over pique. That’s why he won.

Disappointed progressives may be wondering whether their efforts were a waste. They most decidedly were not. The campaign for the public option pushed the entire debate to the left–and, to use a military metaphor, it diverted enemy fire away from the rest of the bill. If Lieberman and his allies didn’t have the public option to attack, they would have tried to gut the subsidies, the exchanges, or some other key element. They would have hacked away at the bill, until it left more people uninsured and more people under-insured. The public option is the reason that didn’t happen…

I hesitated before including that last paragraph, as I don’t think we deserve to pat ourselves on the back for this, but I thought that maybe it would make a few of you out there a little less suicidal, so I decided to keep it… Regardless of whether or not we think that we as Progressives did a good job, I think we can all agree on one thing — Joe Lieberman is a miserable, vindictive little prick, who would rather see good, hard-working Americans die than give the Democrats a political victory.

So, to make a long story short… after coming to an agreement last week to “drop the public option in exchange for allowing 55 to 64-year-olds to buy into Medicare,” Lieberman came back to the Senate Democratic caucus yesterday, saying that he had changed his mind. Now, he said, he intended to block any bill with a buy-in.

And, it’s worth noting that Lieberman, until just a little while ago, not only supported the idea of a Medicare buy-in, but did so vigorously. Here’s a clip from the New York Times:

…Mr. Lieberman had supported the Medicare buy-in proposal in the past — both as the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000 and in more recent discussions about the health care system. In an interview this year, he reiterated his support for the concept.

But in the interview, Mr. Lieberman said that he grew apprehensive when a formal proposal began to take shape. He said he worried that the program would lead to financial trouble and contribute to the instability of the existing Medicare program.

And he said he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system…

So, as my friend Jim noted in a comment on an earlier thread, Lieberman suppported Medicare expansion until it became a real proposal that liberals liked, at which point, he promptly took the opposing side.

And, that, I think, pretty much sums up the character of Joe Lieberman. On the up side, while it’s much too little, much too late, people are finally beginning to see that Joe has to be gotten rid of. Here, along those lines, is a letter that went out to local MoveOn members tonight:

Dear MoveOn member,

First, Joe Lieberman helped President Bush invade Iraq, and the Democrats in Washington forgave him. Then, he endorsed John McCain, and they forgave him again. Then, he personally attacked Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention, and still the Democrats forgave him.

Now, Joe Lieberman is single-handedly gutting health care reform. The time for forgiveness is over. It’s time to hold Senator Lieberman accountable.

First, we’re going to launch a huge ad campaign to make sure every last Connecticut voter knows that Senator Lieberman is blocking strong reforms. Then, we’ll push Senate leaders to strip him of his chairmanship and seniority. Finally, we’ll work to defeat him in his next election.

Our goal is to raise $400,000 in the next 24 hours, to send a deafeningly loud message that we’ve had enough of Joe Lieberman. That’ll take at least 9 donations from Ypsilanti—can you chip in $5?

Sen. Lieberman has been one of the biggest obstacles to real health care reform with a public option all year. But over the past two weeks, he’s taken it to a dangerous new level.

First, he demanded that the public option be removed from the bill. Then, last night, he killed an expansion of Medicare—an idea that he himself championed just three months ago and that was added to the bill specifically to satisfy him.

He’s shown that he can’t be reasoned with. Most of all, Joe Lieberman can’t be allowed to stay in the U.S. Senate.

We can do this. Connecticut is a solidly blue state, going 60% for Obama in 2008. Polls in Connecticut show he’s in trouble. Thirty percent of Lieberman voters in 2006 said they would not vote for him again, and, in another poll, he trailed one possible Democratic opponent by a whopping 44 points.

We’ve had enough of Joe Lieberman. Please help raise $400,000 in the next 24 hours to send him home for good. To get there, we’ll need 9 people in Ypsilanti to help out. Can you contribute $5 right away?

Thanks for all you do.

Put some money in. It’ll make you feel good, like when you stuff a dollar into the Salvation Army kettle. I promise.

And the wrath isn’t stopping with Joe, either. People are also out for Lieberman’s wife Hadassah, and White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who reportedly gave the word to Harry Reid to give in to the angry, little Senator from Connecticut. And, for what it’s worth, I think he deserves to take some heat for how this has all gone down.

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  1. Posted December 15, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    See also.

  2. jacksmith
    Posted December 15, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    THE FILIBUSTER MUST GO! It’s undemocratic. It was created to subvert democracy and the will of the people. The Constitution Of The United States only calls for a simple majority vote in the Senate (51 votes). The Senate should pass the strongest Public Option it can with 51 votes by Reconciliation.

    CRITICAL!! From jacksmith – Working Class

    My Fellow Americans and People Of The World

    A strong Government-run MEDICARE like Public Option is CRITICAL!!

    A Medicare Buy-in at 55 is a GOOD! idea. But!, not a substitute for a strong Medicare like public option CHOICE for everyone. Nor is the (FEHBP). Without a strong public option on day one the Senate health-care bill is a disaster for the American People and the World. Therefore you must KILL!! it. Without a strong public option the health-care reform bill is MUCH WORSE! than what we have now, and what we have now is a catastrophe. SO YOU MUST KILL!! IT.

    What is proposed in the Senate is the worst case scenario for health-care reform. It would shift trillions of taxpayer, public and private dollars into the hands of the private insurance industry (The single most costly, deadly and dangerous product sold in America). And it would compel by law millions of Americans to financially support this oxymoronic criminal enterprise. You cant have a MANDATE WITHOUT A STRONG PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE!

    You will have NO! realistic way of controlling cost and quality. Cost will continue soaring through the roof bleeding the American people dry, and KILLing our economy. And our quality of healthcare will continue to decline below our current ranking of “WORST! quality of healthcare delivery in the developed World”.


    I have to tell you now that the H1N1 virus is a man-made WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION! and TERROR! It is a WEAPONIZED version of a flu virus. It has swept the planet infecting millions. And causing a global pandemic that has killed tens of thousands, and injured millions.

    The H1N1 virus is the product of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! It was released in the U.S. in Texas in early January of this year, but not recognized until around April in California. The reason I know this is because when it came to America, it came to see me FIRST! How sweet…

    This was around the time the MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! assaulted the Whitehouse with all their devils deals to cripple and weaken YOUR! healthcare reform. Especially your right to have a single payer system like HR676 (Medicare For All) which most of you wanted.

    They don’t even want you to have your HUGE!!! compromise position of a strong government-run MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. To compete with their DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, MURDEROUS, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT PRODUCT (The single most costly, deadly and dangerous product sold in America).

    They also wanted to take away your rights to have your government meet it’s responsibility to use it’s full power to regulate, negotiate, and control drug cost, healthcare cost and quality. Something every other civilized country in the developed World has done for it’s people. Their Greed! moral degeneracy and lack of patriotism knows no bounds.

    Many of you will remember that before we knew about H1N1. I posted a open message to the President and Congress warning them to be vigilant about their health, and cautious about any medical advice they received. As I said then “they will not hesitate to try and hurt you”.

    The U.S. and the World have been under a BIOLOGICAL TERROR ATTACK! for over a year now. It is CRITICAL that We The People Of The United States take away control of our healthcare system from the GREED DRIVEN MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    For our own National security, and the security of the world.

    A Strong, government-run, MEDICARE like Public Option CHOICE. Available to everyone on day one, with the full unfettered power of the federal government to regulate, negotiate, and control cost and quality. Would be the most workable way to deal with this global crisis at this time. Including patent suspensions as needed for national security or the greater good.

    As an American I invite the peoples of the World to help us fix our healthcare crisis. And bring pressure on our government to meet it’s responsibility to protect global security by controlling, and removing the corrupting influence of GREED and the PRIVATE FOR PROFIT motivations from healthcare in the U.S. and around the World.

    I call on the governments of the World and the global intelligence community to track down these MASS MURDERERS, and bring them to justice. CONNECT THE DOTS! And be vigilant that they don’t slip in another viral strain on you under the cloak of H1N1 sequestration.

    Further, the proposed patent protection on biologic’s must be stripped from the US bill. And greatly shorten/restricted, or abolished completely. This is a grave danger to humanity and global security.

    I think President Obama is doing the best he can at playing the disastrous deck of cards he inherited from the previous administration. And I think he is doing an excellent job. But the wolves and devils of the medical industrial complex! are trying to exploit, and take advantage of his good heart, and desperate desire to help suffering Americans. But we must be strong and insist that healthcare reform be done right for the American people. Or everyone loose’s.

    This is all I can say in a message post. I’ll try to find a way to tell you more later.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    p.s. The so-called nominal H1N1 virus is designed in such a way as to make it more lethal to children and young adults. The medical community must be more vigilant of secondary bacterial infections in the young caused by H1N1. And remember, a viral infection is also a transfer of genetic code to you. Think about it, and be vigilant. :-(

  3. Kim
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    The one good thing about all of this is that we’ll finally be rid of little joe.

  4. Fred T
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    It’s my understanding that, during the first term of little George Bush, the Republicans passed their enormous tax cuts by way of reconciliation. Can someone confirm that? And, if that’s the case, why can’t Dems use reconciliation now? With reconciliation, they only need 51 votes, which the clearly have.

  5. Jim
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    The reconciliation process can only be used on the budget. Only the elements of health care reform that affect Federal revenues or spending could be passed through reconciliation.
    But even though Health Care Reform cannot be enacted entirely through reconciliation, it seems to me that reformers could have used the reconciliation threat to get Lieberman and the conservative Democrats to agree to a reasonable compromise. Instead Reid took it off the table.

  6. Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    The underlying problem is that Reid and Pelosi are just as much weasels as Joe Lieberman. It’s far past debate about what would help people, it’s just political gamesmanship right now to have ammunition in the next elections.

  7. kjc
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    “The underlying problem is that Reid and Pelosi are just as much weasels as Joe Lieberman.”

    agreed. and they have lots of weasel company.

    I notice the divide that is opening up between progressives and liberals. i read a liberal commentator the other day talking about how people like dennis kucinich and ron paul are great, sure, but come on, we can’t have a bunch of principled people running the govt–we’ve gotta have these savvy, stand-for-nothing pragmatists who understand how to compromise everything away. this also seems to be a common liberal take on Obama as well—the apologists who like to constantly and condescendingly explain pragmatism and compromise (if somebody uses that perfect as the enemy of the good thing again i’ll blow my head off).

    I already knew there were lots of liberals I couldn’t stand, and now i know even better who they are. useful i guess. but also sad. I disagree with most of what the Republicans believe. But I’m not sure the Democrats believe in anything.

  8. applejack
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    jacksmith – i was with you until the ‘H1N1 is a man-made weapon’ stuff…

    The Senate is an unrepresentative body in every way, and the 60 vote requirement is undemocratic in the extreme. Frankly it’s embarrassing that in the 21st century we’re still relying on such an out-dated mechanism to represent us. Honestly why can’t each person represent themselves and vote for bills online? Yes the majority of Americans are wingnuts not fit to govern either, but neither are they likely to vote — no matter how easy it becomes.

  9. Kelty
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    In the first 24 hours, MoveOn members have donated $650,000 toward the anti-Joe cause. Now, they’re raising their goal an even million.

    Merry Christmas.

  10. Robert
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    That was easy, and it’s a good thing. I would have hated to see what lengths would have had to have been resorted to if the public actually put up any sort of fight.

  11. dp in ypsi
    Posted December 16, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    There is no meaningful medicare for all provision in the House bill, or the current Senate bill. In fact the Senate bill sounds like a complete sham that would actually make things worse. I can’t imagine how fantastic it will be to have an opportunity to pay a fine to the federal government for not having health insurance that I still won’t be able to get because of a pre-existing condition.

    Joe’s obstructionism might not be such a bad thing… this time around.

    Gov. Dean talks about the Senate “health care” bill here: “Dean urges defeat of emerging health care bill”

  12. Jim
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Joe’s not the real problem, as Jane Hamsher notes:

    Nonetheless, Gail Collins’ smackdown was fun to read:

  13. Robert
    Posted December 17, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Is anyone still not clear on why Lieberman was pushed on Gore as his vice-presidential running mate back in 2000? He’s a one-man sleeper cell.

  14. Franklin
    Posted March 17, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Permalink

    As no one has said it here in a while, I thought that I’d remind everyone that Lieberman’s a prick.

    That is all.

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