Lieberman, Health Care, and Old Wounds

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?

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13 responses to “Lieberman, Health Care, and Old Wounds

  1. Maybe he finally realized he was wrong?

  2. AndersonScooper

    Who knows? Maybe an embattled Senator Dodd decided not to “open the door” for a Lieberman return to the CT Democratic Party. Thus forcing Lieberman back to the right with an eye on the GOP nomination for 2012?

    Or maybe his lobbyist wife Hadassah owed health insurance insiders too great a debt?

    Or maybe he simply missed the national spotlight he so enjoyed when he trotted out to Minneapolis to share the stage with McCain/Palin?

    Or maybe Joe was just full of shit, when on the 2006 campaign trail he pretended to care about health care for everyone?

    Probably a mix of the above, and me, I cannot wait for 2012, when Chris Murphy will kick Revoltin’ Joe’s ass out of the US Senate!

  3. Maybe he finally realized he was wrong?

    Perhaps I’m cynical, but I’m in the camp that thinks politicians never realize that they’re wrong, they just get better offers. Besides that, if the Senator really ideologically opposed the public option, he could have been more effective for his cause by turning this into a “mea culpa” moment where he admitted the error of his past ways.

    But this isn’t what he did. My best guess is that the Senator is trying to send a message to the White House with this move, and that his position could be fluid pending further incentives.

  4. Bruce Rubenstein

    But this isn’t what he did. My best guess is that the Senator is trying to send a message to the White House with this move, and that his position could be fluid pending further incentives.

    What happened to his ( Lieberman) “core values”? Someone with core values would support a public option for health care and not have a “fluid position” This fluiditity of Lieberman is another reason why he is dogpoop in the Democratic Party. A real Democrat would be consistently for a public option for health care.

  5. Someone with core values would support a public option for health care and not have a “fluid position”

    Core values are subjective. For example, Lieberman may have had a core value of “bankrupting the country is bad.” Such a core value would lead him to oppose the public “option.” Nice call, Joe.

    Besides, didn’t you guys try to knock him out three years ago? I recall Lieberman losing the Democrat primary by 4%, and then winning the election by 10%. It seems to me that Lieberman is more acutely aware of what the State of Connecticut wants than the fringe left is.

  6. AndersonScooper

    Dobbsy,

    Just for the record, according to the polling, if that general election had happened last year, Lieberman would have lost to Lamont. That’s a fact. And what it shows is that many people have seen through the lying that Joe did during the 2006 campaign. (and of course Connecticut was disgusted by his endorsement of a Presidential ticket with Sarah Palin on it.)

    2nd, do you have any proof that a public option would “bankrupt this country”?

    Admit it, right now everyone in America is getting health care. The problem is that they’re often getting it through the emergency room, which often becomes very expensive health care. But it’s not as if all those un-insured people are getting treated at costs to you, me and society. How much are we actually saving from this effed-up system?

  7. Dobbsy,

    He’s back! Glad to see you again. Care to respond to any of my post from the other day? I’ve cut and pasted it below:

    1. Obama fired GM’s CEO and then committed billions to GM and Chrysler, screwing creditors in the process, instead of letting the bankruptcy courts do their job. True or false?2. Obama handed giant shares of each of these companies to the UAW. True or false?3. Obama’s health care plan will add trillions to his projected $10 trillion deficit. True or false?4. Obama turned his back on the Iranian protest movement. True or false?5. Obama is trying to force “climate change” bills on us despite the fact that the planet’s temperature has gone down over the last ten years, and there is growing worldwide opposition to the theory of “global warming” caused by “greenhouse gases.” True or false?

    As you may have guessed, you can’t exactly change the dates of Senate elections. So, no matter what polls say, Lieberman won by a lot, after Lamont won by a little.

    Besides… take a poll next year, and see how many people are thrilled with theirr 2008 Presidential vote, and the 16.5% unemployment that came along with it. Connecticut voters always vote with their wallets — Bush 41 lost here in 1992 despite resoundingly winning a war a year earlier; and Jerry Brown won the 1992 Democratic primary by campaigning on a “flat tax.”

    If the economy doesn’t turn around, voters may go back to the polls on a “hope and change” platform again in 2012.

  8. Just for the record, according to the polling, if that general election had happened last year, Lieberman would have lost to Lamont.

    Key word= “if”

    If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

    If you traded in your 1978 Audi 5000 on November 22, 1986 you could have gotten something for it.

    The only “polling” that matters however returned Lieberman to the Senate.

  9. Oh dear, this wasn’t meant to be a rehashing of the 2006 election. More a detached look at the behavior of a politician. Perhaps this was too much to ask of myself and others? Hmm, I will learn. 🙂

  10. AndersonScooper

    Hey ACR, of all people, I realize Joe Lieberman won. But Lamont came close to pulling off the impossible, and Joe’s victory only happened after the CT GOP admitted it had no chance of winning the seat, even in a 3-way with two Democrats!

  11. Hey ACR, of all people, I realize Joe Lieberman won. But Lamont came close to pulling off the impossible, and Joe’s victory only happened after the CT GOP admitted it had no chance of winning the seat, even in a 3-way with two Democrats!

    Ed, did you just call Joe Lieberman a Democrat?

  12. Hey ACR, of all people, I realize Joe Lieberman won. But Lamont came close to pulling off the impossible, and Joe’s victory only happened after the CT GOP admitted it had no chance of winning the seat, even in a 3-way with two Democrats!

    No.

    Republicans will reflexively vote for national security over all else.

    When it was clear to many in the GOP that betting on a split Democratic Party might not work and that we could wind up with Lamont, an individual many of us considered treasonous; Lieberman’s support jelled resulting in his victory.

  13. catchlightning

    Joe Lieberman continues to seek ways of puffing up his importance to offset his increasing irrelevance. So he stakes out a cozy spot among the tiny so-called “centrist” group along side Ben Nelson, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter. And, as they maneuvered during the final, watered-down version of the stimulus bill, they get their asses kissed AND reduce the effectiveness of legislation.

    Now on health care they feel a bit more bold, knowing that the Max Baucus Secret Caucus known as the Senate Finance Committee — where Baucus and his “bi-partisan” opponent of a public option Chuck Grassley are unlikely to have any public plan in their health care version — Lieberman stakes out what will be the Republican position. Not smart, Joe.

    As long as the public clamor continues in support of the public plan — and it will only get louder — the House will pass a bill with a strong public plan. The Senate HELP Committee will report out something similar. Baucus et al will essentially offer the insurance industry’s version of “reform” — with no competition, essentially forcing more people to pay the insurers more of their declining incomes.

    Let me ask Sen. Lieberman this: Do you really think the Obama White House, Congressional Democrats and the ailing lion Ted Kennedy will allow a conference committee to bring back a bill without a public option?

    Think again — and then what will you do, Joe? Vote “NO” on health care reform? Nice corner you’ve painted yourself in there!

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