Lieberman’s Ego and Cao’s Conscience
Formerly Democratic, now Independent, Sen. Joseph Lieberman formally and officially confirmed to Chris Wallace this morning that his conscience requires him to vote no on health care reform when a bill reaches the Senate floor kill health care reform by joining a Republican filibuster to prevent the Senate’s health care reform bill from ever getting to the floor for a vote:
It isn’t really Lieberman’s “conscience” that is driving him to oppose the public option — more likely it’s his ego (since he told reporters that he likes feeling “relevant“). After all, Lieberman opposed the Senate Finance Committee bill even though it didn’t have a public option, and in 1994, his “conscience” told him that the filibuster was “unfair” and shouldn’t be used to block major legislation. He has also asserted that the public option would raise premiums and increase the debt, even though the Congressional Budget Office has disputed those claims. Furthermore, 60 percent of his constituents support a public option, but Lieberman has dismissed them as just being “confused.”
CNN Political Ticker reports that Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao told Pres. Obama, in a call the president made to Cao before the House vote, that he would vote aye on the bill if the Stupak Amendment was in it. His reasoning is interesting: A majority of the constituents in his Louisiana district want health care reform, but Cao himself opposes abortion. So his lone GOP vote yesterday was a compromise between the needs of his district and the requirements of his conscience. As much as I disagree with him on the merits of the amendment, I have to respect that kind of principled action — even more so because GOP bigwigs had made it clear that any Republican House members who voted for the bill could expect reprisals:
By supporting the bill, Cao has opened himself up to criticism from other members of his party, but the Republican said his vote was the right decision for his constituents and “the right decision based on my conscience.”
Last week, Republican National Committee Michael Steele warned GOP members of Congress that they will face tough consequences if they vote in favor of the health care bill.
“So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you,” Steele told ABC News.
But Cao had the last laugh:
Cao chuckled when asked about the comment and said he “would like to remind” Steele that he and other Republican leaders trumpeted Cao’s upset win over Democrat William Jefferson last December as a symbol of party diversity. Cao is the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress.
“He has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican party would need,” Cao told CNN.