Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Public option still dead after all, as Joe Lieberman says he'll filibuster it

Joe Lieberman to Majority Leader Reid: "Ha, gotcha that time, Harry!"

Wow, that was quick.

Yesterday, Harry Reid announced that the previously dead public option was alive and that he was bringing a health care bill to the floor that included a public option with an opt-out provision for states. Because Harry did not appear to have the 60 votes needed to pass such a bill over the unified opposition of every Republican, some cynics speculated that he was just trying to appease labor and other constituencies that matter in his own 2010 reelection bid.

Today, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman confirmed that Reid does not have the votes:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.

Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.

"We're trying to do too much at once," Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now."

Lieberman added that he’d vote against a public option plan “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line."
Joe will get a lot of pressure to change his mind, but the guy is not easily swayed by mere pressure. What's more, Joe has staked out a position that makes it easier for other reluctant moderate Democrats like Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln to say simply, ditto that.

Reid may have screwed himself by alienating the one Republican who actually voted for one of the Senate reform bills. Maine's Olympia Snowe put herself out on a limb by doing so, with the clear stipulation that there was to be no public option except through a "trigger." Now, Snowe is ticked off at what seems to have been a humiliating bait and switch.

Nice work, Harry!

What do you think? Post a comment.

UPDATE: Hard on the heels of Lieberman's announcement, his 2006 opponent, Ned Lamont, said his was getting a lot of e-mails urging him to run again in 2012. Sure, the MoveOn.org-DailyKos crowd would love to knock off Joe, but Lamont wisely sidestepped. He managed to best Joe in the 2006 Democratic primary in a campaign fueled by the peak of liberal opposition to the war in Iraq. But Joe, running as an independent with a Republican also in the race, beat him soundly (by 10 points) in the general election. Besides, 2010 is a long way off.

UPDATE 2: Another Democratic moderate, Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas reiterates her opposition to a public option.


  1. Lieberman is going to be toast for this. He's a traitor in the pocket of the insurance companies.

  2. Love Lieberman for this... and Lincoln, Bayh, all this realistic/moderate Dem gang. Yes Lieberman is talking his book, but here it's the right thing too.

    I liked the Whole Foods guy's idea--the most effective health insurance reform is the simplest: make all the companies offer a basic, high-deductible plan, that has to admit everyone who applies, no turning folks down for pre-existing conditions.

    Reid is a chump, here's hoping he goes down next year.