Monday, December 14, 2009

It’s Personal

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has come up with yet another reason for opposing healthcare reform.

In a move that senior leadership aides say has left them stunned, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he will filibuster a tentative public option compromise unless it’s stripped of its key component: a measure that would allow people aged 55-64 to buy insurance through Medicare.

The development casts substantial doubt on whether or not a health care reform bill can pass in the Senate, and even more doubt on whether a bill that does pass the Senate will be reconcilable with substantially more progressive House legislation in such a way that a final reform package can once again pass in both chambers of Congress.

Lieberman told Reid this afternoon, after a contentious appearance on Face the Nation, that he’s a “no” vote on the new compromise unless the Medicare buy-in is stripped, and he’s not even waiting for the CBO to weigh in–a move one leadership aide described as “extremely unfair.”

What makes the new turn even more outlandish in the eyes of leadership and others is that Lieberman ran for Vice President on a platform that included a Medicare buy-in for people not-yet eligible for the program. Last week, he and Reid clashed when Lieberman began raising less definitive objections to the plan.

It’s clear that it’s not about the bill; it is, as Ezra Klein says, about settling old scores with the liberals who he thinks screwed him over in the Connecticut Senate race and backed Ned Lamont in 2006. He’s willing to be the one that will kill any possibility for healthcare reform — and let more people go without — because of his wounded ego and need for revenge. What other reason is there? It’s certainly not about the bill itself or the concept of healthcare reform; he’s been all over the map on his reasons for opposing the bill; as Steve Benen has chronicled, he’s had at least eight different reasons for voting against it, all of them proven to be either misinformed or outright lies.

What’s even more amazing is that the Senate leadership says they are “stunned.” Oh, really? You mean you didn’t get a clue when Joe Lieberman campaigned for John McCain last year and has spent most of the current year carrying water for the GOP, and now you’re “stunned”? If healthcare fails — and without the Medicare buy-in it won’t get past the progressives in the Senate or the House — it won’t be because of the tea-baggers or the scare tactics of the far-right wingnuts. It will be because the leadership of the Democratic party ignored all the warnings of the last three years, and they will have no one to blame but themselves.