Political watchdogs and supporters of the public health care option are accusing Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman of hypocrisy for announcing he plans to filibuster the Senate health care reform bill after years of voicing support for health care reform.
Since Lieberman’s announcement on Tuesday that he would not stop a Republican filibuster of health reform if that health reform included a public option, bloggers have been scrambling to post videos of Lieberman advocating health care reform, including the principle of universal coverage, in past election campaigns.
Lieberman’s position on the filibuster is crucial. The Democrats need all 60 of their Senate caucus members to vote in unison to overcome an expected filibuster of the bill. Since 2006, Lieberman has been an independent, but has caucused with the Democrats and is counted as one of the Democratic senators on the Hill.
At his DailyKos blog, Jed Lewison posted a video of Lieberman promising health care reform during his 2006 Senate run.
“What I’m saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance,” Lieberman said during a July, 2006, debate.
During that campaign, Lieberman advocated “small business health insurance reform, plus something I call MediKids to cover all the children in America on a sliding fee basis up until the age of 25.”
Lieberman also pushed for a plan he called “MediChoice,” which would “allow anybody in our country to buy into a national insurance pool like the health insurance pool that we federal employees and Members of Congress have.”
Lieberman promised his reforms would cover “95 percent of those who are not covered now, and it will reduce the pressure on rising costs for all the millions of others.”
As Eric Kleefeld pointed out at TalkingPointsMemo, Lieberman had a similar platform in 2004, when he promised to cover all American children with a Medicare-style plan, and said under his plan “if you lose your job, you will not lose your health insurance.”
Lieberman at the time described his health care reforms as “centrist.”
But throughout this year’s debate on health care reform, Lieberman has voiced opposition to not only the public option, but even to taking on the health care issue at the present time.
Political observers have been scratching their heads over the last day, trying to understand Lieberman’s motivation for throwing a roadblock up to Democrats’ plans for health care reform. Josh Marshall at TalkingPointsMemo suggests that Lieberman’s position can’t be one of principle, because “between yesterday and today Joe completely changed his rationale for why he thinks the public option is a bad idea.”
Marshall notes that, on Tuesday, Lieberman argued that the public option was a bad idea because it would raise the deficit and increase the burden on taxpayers. But on Wednesday, Marshall noted, Lieberman argued that a public option would reduce the rates hospitals and doctors are paid by so much that they would have no choice but to jack up costs for people with private health plans. The two arguments are contradictory, Marshall argued, and the change “does point to what experience with Joe suggests — which is that this is opposition for the sake of opposition, the politics of pique. Why else would change his argument overnight?”
Markos Moulitsas at DailyKos put it more bluntly, accusing the senator of “bluffing.”
“Lieberman is crapping his pants for attention,” Moulitsas wrote.
The following video was uploaded to DailyKosTV on October 27, 2009.