Joe Lieberman won’t help the Dems get the health-care bill to the floor

Politico reports that Sen. Joe Lieberman says flatly that he won’t vote for cloture to bring about a floor vote on the health care bill that Majority Leader Harry Reid announced yesterday. Lieberman opposes the public option, even with the opt-out mechanism.

Reid said yesterday that he had the votes to bring the bill to the floor, but Lieberman’s statement (coupled with Olympia Snowe’s bad reaction to yesterday’s news) calls that into doubt. Reed needs 60 votes for cloture. If he doesn’t have Sen. Snowe (the price of getting her apparently would have been the “trigger mechanism” for a public option instead of an  opt-out mechanism), he would need every member of his caucus, 58 Democrats plus two independents who caucus with Democrats. Lieberman, a former Dem.,  is one of the two independents. His statement to Politico was quite clear:

“We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.”

Lieberman added that he’d vote against a public option plan “even with an opt-out” because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.” 

His comments confirmed that Reid is short of the 60 votes needed to advance the bill out of the Senate, even after Reid included the opt-out provision. Several other moderate Democrats expressed skepticism at the proposal as well, but most of the wavering Democratic senators did not go as far as Lieberman Tuesday, saying they were waiting to see the details.

Lieberman did say he’s “strongly inclined” to vote to proceed to the debate, but that he’ll ultimately vote to block a floor vote on the bill if it isn’t changed first. 

“I’ve told Sen. Reid that if the bill stays as it is now I will vote against cloture,” he said.

“I can’t see a way in which I could vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated-run insurance company,” Lieberman added. “It’s just asking for trouble – in the end, the taxpayers are going to pay and probably all people will have health insurance are going to see their premiums go up because there’s going to be cost shifting as there has been for Medicare and Medicaid.”

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Dan Landherr on 10/27/2009 - 04:42 pm.

    Isn’t Lieberman a noted friend of the insurance industry? His home state of Connecticut has a lot to gain/lose in this bill.

  2. Submitted by Paul Scott on 10/28/2009 - 09:41 am.

    He sure is a noted friend of TV cameras and the attention they bring to Joe Lieberman.

  3. Submitted by John E Iacono on 10/28/2009 - 04:13 pm.

    I won’t hold my breath over this one.

    I expect to see the press going crazy over each little installment of “The Perils of Pauline” as this remodeling of our economy wanders through Congress.

    In the meantime, I think I’ll just wait it out with as little attention as possible, since no-one in Washington gives a hoot what I think anyway.

  4. Submitted by Jean Schiebel on 10/28/2009 - 05:53 pm.

    I am with John E. on this one..sick of the constant, will they or won’t they vote for it?

    Not on my radar anymore..wake me for the final vote

  5. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/29/2009 - 10:29 am.

    Lieberman is a round heeled DINO.
    The Dems would be better off in the long run to simply cut him loose and treat him as a Republican, rather than trying to act as if he’s still a member of the party.

  6. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 10/29/2009 - 10:48 am.

    Some Dems want to encourage leader Reid to strip Lieberman of his committee assignments. I would say ESPECIALLY his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee if I had that power. He’s not just a DINO but a right-wing hardliner when it comes to war opportunities.

  7. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 10/30/2009 - 11:07 am.

    The Senator from Raytheon?

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