We need to know: Is there any limit to what Holy Joe Lieberman can get away with and still caucus with the Dems?
"We have the opportunity to do some great reforms here. These exchanges that we’re talking about, I think, are going to drive competition and probably bring the cost of health insurance down or at least contain the cost increases for a lot of people. Let’s give that two or three years to see how it works to see how it works before we talk about creating another entitlement that will end up increasing the national debt and putting more of a burden on taxpayers.”
-- the Holiest Joe of Them All, to Politico's Manu Raju
Politico's initial report, which went up at 1:38pm ET, caused a stir, to say the least.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said Tuesday that he’d back a GOP filibuster of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s health care reform bill.
Lieberman, who caucuses with Democrats and is positioning himself as a fiscal hawk on the issue, said he opposes any health care bill that includes a government-run insurance program — even if it includes a provision allowing states to opt out of the program, as Reid has said the Senate bill will.
"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."
His Holiness has had all afternoon to back off. He hasn't. It is therefore not just his privilege but his obligation to enforce his personal opinions on health care reform, bought with the best money the insurance companies could bribe him with, to make sure that health care reform doesn't happen. Well, he is the Holiest Joe of Them All.
Oh, the Holy Man is officially all for health care reform. Politico: "Lieberman said he 'very much' wants to vote for health care reform but that he’s worried about stifling 'the economic recovery we’re in' or adding to the federal debt."
Of course the loathsome snotrag lies with every breath he draws. He's wholly owned by the Moneyed Interests. TPM's Brian Beutler tried to get him to deal, however fleetingly, with reality:
One of Lieberman's main objections to the health care bill is that it includes a public option, which he describes as a burden on taxpayers.
"I think a lot of people may think that the public option is free. It's not. It's going to cost the taxpayers and people who have health insurance now, and if it doesn't it's going to add terribly to the national debt...there's so much in this health reform legislation that is so good, that I think they're just putting an unnecessary burden on top of it by creating another Washington-based entitlement program."
This is at great odds with the findings of most experts, who say that, by bringing efficiencies into the greater insurance market, and therefore lowering the government's subsidy burden, a public option will actually save money.
I asked him to square his rationale with the experts consensus, but he was undeterred. "Well all the history we have of health entitlement programs, including the two big ones that I dearly support, Medicare and Medicaid, is that they end up costing more than we're prepared to pay, and they add to the debt, and then they add to the burden on taxpayers."
As written, congressional health care legislation would require the public option--whether administered by a government, or by an outside body--would be financed by premiums, and unable to draw on federal funds.
Poor White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs tried to do cartwheels aboard Air Force One to avoid committing the president to an opinion on His Holiness's open treason against his party. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was saying, rather incredibly, that right now his pal Joe is "the least of my problems."
Let's hope that by tomorrow both the president, who keeps acting as if he's a bystander in all this health care reform business, and the majority leader have regained their senses and come to the defense of the basic principle that you can't even talk about joining a Republican filibuster and remain a member of the Democratic caucus. (I know this is bound to come back to bite me in the butt someday, but this isn't that someday.)
Okay, the gloves are off. Now that the little bug has taken his stand, it's time to squash him.
SO, THE STORIES I WANT TO READ TOMORROW ARE:
* Senator Reid's announcement that the Senate Democratic caucus has voted to expel Senator Lieberman, of course thereby stripping him of his committee chairmanship.
* Senator Reid's announcement that he is referring the case of Senators Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Blanche Lincoln et al. to the Justice Dept. for investigation with a view to prosecution for bribery.