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Posted by on Dec 19, 2009 in Economy, Health, Media, Politics | 21 comments

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the “Point Man”

Ezra Klein has written a blistering rebuke of Sen. Joe Lieberman for the enormous damage — possibly fatal damage — he has done to what was our best chance to get meaningful health care reform in 60 years:

Joe Lieberman’s reckless decision to blow up last week’s compromise has had exactly the impact many of us predicted. Much of the left has flipped into vicious, angry opposition to the bill. Is that because the Medicare buy-in, a good but limited policy, has disappeared from the bill? Ostensibly. But not really.  …

[P]rogressives had compromised plenty already. Single payer became a strong public option, a strong public option became a weak public option, a weak public option became Medicare buy-in, and Medicare buy-in became Joe Lieberman’s revenge. Progressive ends are submitting to conservative means, and industry is laughing all the way to the bank. …

[…]

Worse, it all feels divorced from detectable policy principles. Medicare buy-in was a policy Lieberman supported. It was a compromise that had been communicated to him directly. It emerged from meetings that he was invited to attend. He didn’t bother to wait for the Congressional Budget Office’s report, or even to offer a coherent argument against the policy. He had the power, he knew it, and he used it. Now he’s giving happy, triumphant interviews to any camera and reporter he can find. My personal favorite was his comment to the New York Times. “My wife said to me, ‘Why do you always end up being the point person here?’ ” Did Lieberman say this somberly? Did he seem weighed down by the responsibility? No. He was “flashing a broad grin.”

[…]

And Lieberman, let’s remember, is not a lefty blogger. He isn’t a pundit or an op-ed columnist. He is the “point man,” and by choice. He bears a special responsibility. Atop the shoulders of another man, it would make for a heavy load. But not his. His recklessness has endangered the bill, and through it, many, many lives. He may not be ashamed. But he should be.

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • drgh

    Here is a guy that pushes for and votes for sending Billions of our money every year to Israel to have government provided health care and education, but does not want us the Americans to have it. I guess we know where his heart and loyalty really belongs to!

    • kathykattenburg

      Israel does not get billions of U.S. dollars for Israelis to have government-provided health care and education. They do get billions of U.S. dollars in military aid which they use to continue violating the rights of Palestinians under international law, but that aid is supported by the entire political establishment in Washington — opposing military aid to Israel is politically suicidal in this country.Having corrected you on this factual point, however, there is a much larger and more serious problem with your comment. Bluntly said, it’s anti-semitic. The idea that American Jews have “divided” loyalties between the U.S. and Israel is just the latest contemporary incarnation of the canard that has been used against Jews for centuries wherever they have lived. Questioning the patriotism and loyalty of Jews to the governments they live under because Jews are not “really” French or English or German or Russian or whatever is old sport for anti-semites.As it happens, I am Jewish, and I find your smear to be very offensive. I yield to no one in my contempt for Joe Lieberman’s cynical and self-serving political grandstanding, but that has nothing to do with his Jewishness or his position on Israel. I just want it to be clear that I do not agree with or condone your suggestion that Joe Lieberman is more loyal to another country than to his own because he’s Jewish. That is itself contemptible.

      Edited to add: And by the way, the author of the column I quoted — Ezra Klein — is also Jewish. So are a significant number of the well-known bloggers and other writers who support health care reform: Matthew Yglesias, Spencer Ackerman, Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic (and I think also Jonathan Chait), and I know there are others I’m forgetting. Quite a few of the members of Congress who support health care reform are Jewish. Barney Frank is Jewish. Russ Feingold is Jewish. A lot more. So your entire premise that Lieberman, being Jewish, cares more about the health and welfare of Israelis than Americans, is completely off the mark.

  • $199537

    I just want it to be clear that I do not agree with or condone your suggestion that Joe Lieberman is more loyal to another country than to his own because he’s Jewish. That is itself contemptible.

    Well said.

    • kathykattenburg

      Thank you, DaGoat. I appreciate your saying that. 🙂

  • todd432

    This is not a health care bill this is the Joe Lieberman Bill. This bum sold Americans off to big insurance. They ought do a corruption investigation on him to find ANY little thing we can and throw the book at him.

  • Leonidas

    LOL Kathy and Ezra still on the Anti-Lieberman crusade I see. The Democratic Progressives really don’t like the moderate Lieberman. So how many anti-Lieberman threats citing Klein is it now?

    Anyhow lets get real, its the Progressives that are blowing up compromise, by trying to stick the Liberal Santa list in the legislation rather than going forward with a series of smaller bills that actually focus on putting things in place where there is enough agreement to pass.

    Put a bill about not letting insurance company’s drop coverage so easily, it will pass.

    Put a bill that limits insurance companies from not covering pre-existing conditions after a certain amount of time that the customer continues to hold insurance with the company, it will pass.

    Put in a bill that allows Americans to choose to buy insurance across State lines, it will pass.

    The progressive wing of the Democratic should stop delaying healthcare reforms that can happen now, passing these measures into law immediately is a lot more important that the effort they put into obsessing a moderate Senator because he won’t go along with measures that don’t have bipartisan support.

    You went after Lieberman in the election, and the People of his State choose him over the Progressives, get over it. You get your chance next time Lieberman is up for re-election.

    • dduck12

      rather than going forward with a series of smaller bills that actually focus on putting things in place where there is enough agreement to pass.”

      Thanks for saying this again. I felt like I was spitting into the wind every time I suggested that on this forum.

      • casualobserver

        Why would you feel anything the liberal bloggers and posters here or elsewhere say is even a mild rebuke to your ideas when a growing majority of this nation is throwing buckets of cold water on their philosophy in greater volume every passing day?Liberals set themselves up for disappointment….instead of establishing momentum with a series of incremental victories, they go for a full rewrite of the Constitution and then get to spend the next year getting beaten back and have to salve their wounds by thinking their posts here (or their articles in the Washington Post) actually change the course of events. They are a sadly mistaken lot.

        • dduck12

          I agree, but I also have a lot of anger towards the GOP, they also could do more incremental work. Instead they just piss and moan. Both parties are guilty, but the grandiose plans of the Dems exacerbate the problem much more.

    • Kenneth_Almquist

      “Put in a bill that allows Americans to choose to buy insurance across State lines, it will pass.”

      Today, states regulate health insurance. For example, if you want to sell health insurance in the individual market in New Jersey, you have to offer one or more standard plans, and you have to provide a rate shedule to the state, which publishes the rate information on its web site, allowing consumers to easily compare costs.

      What you are suggesting, if I understand you correctly, is that Congress should pass a law in order to stop New Jersey from doing this. New Jersey’s insurance regulations derive their force from the fact that it is currently illegal to sell insurance in New Jersey unless you comply with state regulations. If companies are allowed to sell insurance regardless of whether they follow the regulations, then the regulations become meaningless.

      Perhaps there is a case to be made to get states out of the business of regulating health insurance and setting up a single federal regulator instead. But eliminating state regulation of health insurance companies without creating an alternative regulator is an idea that liberals will, and should, fight.

      • dduck12

        Hey, Congress can do it and they usually don’t worry about implementation. The trend of some in the insurance business is for a national regulator. The state’s generally have fought this as their insurance departments are a revenue source. So, just as Landrieu got 300 mil. and Nelson and others got more bucks for their state Medicaid programs, in a similar way, the states could be, ahem, convinced that a national insurance regulator would be in the best interest of the country (Battle Hymn of The Republic in the background).. This would take a little time and effort, but it would be worth it.

      • ProfElwood

        The “regulation” that most states do consists of little more than restricting competition and insurance mandates. Look up McCarran-Ferguson if you want to see the Insurance companies’ and the AMA’s “holy grail”:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarran-Ferguson_Act
        http://libertariannation.org/a/f12l3.html

  • JSpencer

    Ezra is exactly right. Leiberman is a self-centered pain in the ass who enjoys attention more than just about anything else – including the good of the country. That said, this whole business is bigger than any one hypocritical small-minded senator, and so it’s time to move on. That of course doesn’t mean I won’t eventually enjoy seeing the little wanker slapped down when his “usefulness” has worn off. 😉

  • brian27

    Joe Lieberman is in it for the kick backs he is receiving from the insurance companies. He’s accepted more money from them than any Senator in history. It’s time for term limits and public funded elections to take the lobbyists out of Washington. I’m tired of see their votes go to the highest bidder.

  • casualobserver

    Brian, Nate Silver of 538 says you are the biggest liar in the history of this website

    “Is Lieberman’s stance intended to placate the special interests in his state? Perhaps this is part of it — there are a lot of insurance companies in Connecticut — but Lieberman is generally not one of the more sold-out Senators, ranking 75th out of the 100-member chamber in the percentage of his fundraising that comes from corporate PACs.”

  • dduck12

    NY State has always had one of the best insurance departments. It could be a model for a national regulator, and just pay off the other states.

  • DLS

    Wow, the fringe’s tantrums are actually still going on. Up to sixty years, now (and counting higher, no doubt)? And it will soon be a century or more before we can ever have the chance at “reform” again?

    [snicker]

    Oh, what overreach by the lefty Dems has wrought.

  • DLS

    [Incrementalism]

    “I felt like I was spitting into the wind every time I suggested that on this forum.”

    It was just having your and my and others’ rehashing of obvious truths bounce off closed, agitated minds.

    It won’t be long before the demented post-mortems for “reform” and for any Dem losses late next year will outdo hack Krugman’s possible claims that the “lesson” is that the lib Dems didn’t reach and try to go far enough, fast enough(!).

  • missbelle590

    Joe is not anti Israel, but he should be. I did not say anti Semitic. It is ok to be anti Israel. All True Americans are loyal to one nation the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. If you are not loyal to your own nation first than you are a TRADER to that nation. True American voters are watching close. WE DO NOT WISH TO HAVE A LEADER THAT REPRESENTS ANOTHER NATION OVER AMERICA. WE DO NOT NEED TO STAND WITH OTHER COUNTRIES TO VOTE FOR OUR ON COUNTRY. PARTNERS FOR OTHER COUNTRIES or CORP SHOULD RUN FOR OFFICE in that CORP OR COUNTRY THAT THEY ARE MOST LOYAL TO. LEAVE AMERICA TO TRUE AMERICANS.

  • missbelle590

    To all Jew and their politics, ”ISRAEL NEEDS REFORMED.” AMERICANS ARE NOT SMUCKS it does not take a 1000 or 100 of another kind of people to equal 1 JEW. ALL GODS PEOPLE MATTER. The things that are taught to Jewish children are wrong. As a Christian I ask God FOR PEACE IN ISRAEL. One day Israel will have to pay. You can hide the truth only for a time, but the internet is running at a faster rate than the lies of Israel can keep up with. Please STOP? Practice doing what you wish for yourself. The Chosen people are the People that love God and do his will.

  • Joe Lieberman should be punished for his obstructionism. And there is a way to do it, along with other irresponsible politicians, like Ben Nelson. Starting in 2010 vote out every incumbent in the Congress (those who have “served” 4 terms in the House and 2 terms in the Senate). It wouldn’t impact Lieberman until 2012. But it would make it clear to the politicians that We The People are in control. They don’t listen now, and they won’t listen in the future, unless we act now. We need the People’s Term Limits: http://termlim.com

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