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Posted by on Jun 15, 2009 in Health, Politics | 20 comments

Joe Being Joe: Lieberman Says No to “Public Option” on Health-Care Reform

Joe Lieberman, non-Democrat, is always just in it for himself, isn’t he? He’s with McCain and the Republicans before the ’08 election, campaigning vigorously against Obama, then he’s with Obama, if not so much with the Democrats, whom he formally rejected following his loss to Lamont (becoming an “independent”), when Obama wins and the Republicans are reduced to an extremist minority with little hope of reaquiring power anytime soon. Indeed, he only crawled back to the Democrats after the election, and kissed up to Obama with effusive praise, so effusive as to suggest phoniness, pandering to the president’s immense popularity, in order to secure himself a leadership position in the Senate.

And here he is again, Joe being Joe, this time on health-care reform, coming out, as expected, against the so-called “public option”:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said this weekend that he opposes a public option plan for consumers in a healthcare reform plan to emerge from the Senate.

“I don’t favor a public option,” Lieberman told Bloomberg News in an interview broadcast this weekend. And I don’t favor a public option because I think there’s plenty of competition in the private insurance market.”

Now, the “public option” is what we in the civilized world have. Even if there is private health care (as, say, in the U.K., where private insurance can be purchased and where there are private medical facilities), the foundation of progressive universal health care is a state-run system — one that, contrary to the misinformation and propaganda campaign of the right, allows for a substantial amount of choice. (As in Canada, for example: I chose my family doctor. I was not assigned to one. As a resident of Ontario, I have what is called OHIP, the univeral provincial plan. However, I have additional coverage through work, and one can buy additional coverage through private insurers.)

Lieberman and other opponents of genuine reform suggest that public health care is anti-market and anti-choice, a form of state-run tyranny, and that adopting any sort of “public option” would be like adopting, say, the Soviet model. No matter that universal public health care works extremely well here in Canada, as well as in every other advanced liberal democracy, from Norway to New Zealand. And I agree, the American system works well — if you have money, if you have the access that comes from privilege. (I used to live in the U.S., and was privileged to have access to excellent health care. So I know.) But the millions of uninsured, and inadequately insured, not to mention the millions and millions who have to haggle with their HMOs and who have no choice but to accept what those HMOs tell them to do, who have no choice but HMO-approved care, need more than more of the same, more than more of the market, more than having to go to the market in hopes of finding the coverage and treatment they need. Rather, what they need is precisely the sort of public system we have in Canada, a system that guarantees coverage, and that guarantees care, for everyone regardless of money or privilege.

But back to Lieberman. As Steve Benen puts it: “First, reforming American healthcare without a public option is to do reform the wrong way. Second, Lieberman is just wrong about there being ‘plenty of competition in the private insurance market.’ Third, these comments yet another reminder that Lieberman is not with Democrats on ‘everything but foreign policy.'”

And then there was this doozy from Lieberman: “Let’s get something done instead of having a debate.” What the hell does that mean? (It’s easily one of the stupidest lines of the year so far.) As Steve asks, “[w]hat’s wrong with having a debate and getting something done?” Nothing. Unless you’re Joe Lieberman, who doesn’t really want to get anything done in terms of genuine reform and who therefore doesn’t want to have a meaningful debate about anything.

Yes, it’s more of the same from Joe Lieberman, non-Democrat, wrong on health care and an obstacle to reform. What else is new?

(Cross-posted from The Reaction.)

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  • SteveK

    Fortunately Mr. Lieberman is serving his last term as a representative (sic) of anyone/anything. One can only wish him well in his golden years…

  • jwest

    The good people of Connecticut will continue to send Joe Lieberman back to the Senate for as long as he wants the job. Crazy left-wingers like Lamont are too out of the mainstream.

    While on the subject of Democrat Senators, I ripped Max Cleland in an article I missed earlier.

    • Don Quijote

      . Crazy left-wingers like Lamont are too out of the mainstream.

      Bur even the even crazier left-winger from the People’s Republic of Vermont, Bernie Sanders is in a US Senator. So if we elect a couple of more Bernie Sanders, Lamont will be smack in the middle of the main street.

      Good job attempting to move the Overton window…

  • heheh. jwest, you telling us what’s mainstream? oh brother!

  • casualobserver

    CT Dems might want to worry if they’ll even manage to hold their existing Senate seat, much less stress over the one long gone.

  • $199537

    It’s humorous how Democrats express admiration for GOP moderates like Snowe, Collins, Chafee, etc but can’t stand the moderates in their own ranks.

  • SteveK

    It’s humorous how the right feels the need to try and find something wrong in anything and everything progressive.

    Ben Nelson and Evan Bayh are moderate Democrats. Joe Lieberman is a radical Zionist.

  • SteveK

    casualobserver said: “CT Dems might want to worry if they’ll even manage to hold their existing Senate seat, much less stress over the one long gone.

    Not just the CT Dems causalovserver. When you consider the groundswell of support the republican party has been receiving lately the Democrats should be in fear of their basic survival…

    …Just kidding.

  • PJBFan

    Joe Lieberman is absolutely correct. We should not be having a government run system. What should be in place is a simple safety-net. Government should remove unreasonable restrictions on the insurance industry, let the price drop, and then allow those who cannot afford to get into the private market to buy into a public system. Medicare should be a last resort. Government control of anything should be a last resort. Government organizations create bureaucracy, and the last thing anybody in this country needs is more money going to Washington and to the State Governments and away from their pockets and the market.

    That being said, I am not opposed to having those who absolutely are not covered, and cannot be covered, by private insurance being able to use a government plan, so long as the federal government forces businesses to provide competent insurance for their workers bought in the marketplace. The other good suggestion that came out was a federal Health Savings Account plan. That keeps the money spent on health care from being taxed, and allows people, during times of market growth and good economic numbers, to put away more money for a rainy day that can only be touched for health care.

    We should be doing everything we can to keep the government from insuring everybody. Private insurance, wherever possible, should be used, and only when it is absolutely impossible for a person to get private insurance should public insurance be given.

  • Silhouette

    Lieberman is the poster child of the politcal whore.

    “Sell out” doesn’t even begin to approach what he is. Not by a longshot.

    • jwest


      “Lieberman is the poster child of the politcal whore.”

      I can’t agree with this.

      Lieberman came out during the primary and stated what he believed. Because of that, he lost the primary and had to run as an independent.

      If he had lied (as most Democrats do) in order to get the nomination and to win the election, I would go along with label “whore”, but Joe stuck to his principles and told the truth – which is why he is so much like a Republican.

  • DLS

    “Lieberman came out during the primary and stated what he believed.”

    As opposed to what the Establishment insists he and voters believe.

  • PBJ: We should not be having a government run system.

    Correction. Again. No one is talking about “government run” health care. We’re talking about the VERY mundane clerical aspect of sending the check. The government already sends millions every month. They can do it cheaper than a for-profit company that skims off 17% (insurance companies’ own analysis). PBJ, we can use that 17% (actually about 12, because Medicare “bureaucracy” costs 5.2%, according to the insurers). And of course, I’d be more than content for you to continue to pay 12% more for worse care. I do not care. But I would opt for the 12% less and better care (meaning less hassles for the doctor or patient in getting things covered, no “eligibility” gauntlet, no exclusion for pre-existing conditions, no losing your coverage if you change jobs or states, etc.) No, I think clearly the private insurance market has created a MUCH worse bureaucracy here, and it’s literally killing us.

    As for the concerns that private insurance couldn’t compete and would cease to exist? Well, speaking for my own, Blue Cross, GOOD RIDDANCE!

  • PJBFan

    GD ~

    I want nothing to do with the government sending out cheques to doctors and such. In fact, I want to de-fund HHS, but that’s not going to happen, unless someone like me is President, with a Congress of people who think like Tom Coburn. I think we should be reducing the interference of Government in every area, not increasing it, whenever possible.

    Frankly, I’ll always choose Blue Cross, and I don’t really think I should be obligated to pay for your health care, either as I currently do, or with a potential public competitor. Nor should you be obligated to pay for mine. Each should pay for their own, and only when it is absolutely impossible for a person to do so, then should the Government step in, and aid, not pay in entirety for, the private health insurance of a person.

    • Don Quijote

      Frankly, I’ll always choose Blue Cross, and I don’t really think I should be obligated to pay for your health care, either as I currently do, or with a potential public competitor.

      Cool, we should let people with highly contagious diseases walk down the street and die like flies while contaminating every one they run into, including your relatives, because you should not be obligated to pay for their health-care.

  • SteveK

    PJBFan says: “I want nothing to do with the government sending out cheques to doctors and such.”

    As you’re worried about “cheques” (NOT “checks”) I have to ask if you are receiving Canadian or British National Health benefits or are you paying out of pocket for Blue Cross or other private HMO plan?

  • bobhobbes

    Currently the state is responsible for providing roads, postal systems, military, police, colleges, schools, coast guard, space programs etc. HMO’s are run by the same kind of folks that brought you Enron. In the former, you may have uncaring beaureaucrats implimenting policies enacted through your democratically elected government, in the latter, you have policy decisions enacted by uncaring corporate execs with whom you have absolutely no recourse other than legal (assuming you have more money than they do in order to gain access to the courts). If Sen. Lieberman is opposed to state run healthcare perhaps he should be asked why the state of Israel currently has such a system in place? Does he feel the people of Israel are ill served by such a system and should really consider switching to the American model? If not, then perhaps he can be prodded to promote an active investigation of the Israeli model so that the American people can have the same kinds of benefits that Israeli citizens currently enjoy. If there is a budgetary concern, perhaps there are some extra-national expenses that could be trimmed in order to ensure that 50 million Americans have some level of decent, affordable healthcare.

  • AngryYoungFart

    Go eat shit and smile lieberman. There is plenty of competition for healthy people, but as soon as you actually need your health insurance, they WILL find a way to fuck you over. Every one of these pricks(who receive the best healthcare in the country) who dont see a problem with the current system should prove it by resigning from their government run plan.

    • whatever239

      Right on AYF. Let’s see old Joe the Traitor go without health insurance while he gives the rest of us sermons about how we don’t need it. You fucking religious old turd. The sooner we flush you down the toilet the better.

  • fairtaxer10

    Thank you, Sen. Lieberman. Though I disagree with you many times, I always respect and listen to what you have to say. One of the few politicians that tries to listen to all sides. No to public health care.

    For heaven’s sake, fix the economy first before you even think about any more deficit spending! Sheesh. Pass the Fair Tax plan, HR 25 / S 296 and get this economy going. Then maybe we’ll look at more spending. Maybe.

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