I’m of course interested in Senator Joe Lieberman’s very documentable change of heart on the public option.
Today he was smote with what must have been a powerful epiphany, realizing, “if we create a public option, the public is going to end up paying for it.” As an advocate for the public option, I would argue that the public is already paying for it, and 2006 Lieberman clearly tended to agree with me. During a debate with Lamont, Lieberman invoked a “MediChoice” program that he first suggested during the 2004 Presidential campaign:
My plan will also enable all Americans who don’t have access to affordable, conventional health insurance to buy into new MediChoice health insurance pools, modeled on the health care program for federal employees. The MediChoice pools will be open to all workers who currently fall through insurance cracks. This includes self-employed, part-time, seasonal and temporary workers. It also will give stay-at-home moms, early retirees over 55 and workers in small companies with less than 50 employees access to affordable health benefits.
At this point however, a story on Joe Lieberman reversing a 2006 campaign promise has long since entered dog-bites-man territory. I’m much more interested in why Joe Lieberman chose this issue to reinflame passions within the base after several months of residence in the background of a relatively unified Democratic bloc. Since the inauguration, Lieberman has been primarily either mum or complimentary on Obama initiatives — going so far as to say he is “off to a very good start” in mid-March. During this period, Lieberman’s approval ratings have improved from a 38%/54% split in December to a 46%/44% in the latest May Quinnipiac poll.
I find it very difficult to wrap my head around both why this change in strategy was made and why it was made so vocally. With the public option polling so well currently and with a fairly comprehensive paper trail depicting Lieberman’s support of public health care in one capacity or another over the years, I can’t help but be dumbstruck by it. We’ve heard comparatively little from the Senator on Obama’s policies on Israeli settlements, and even less on the Iraq sovereignty transition going on–all issues Lieberman has been famous on in the past. Anyone care to help elucidate on Lieberman’s new front against his constitutents?