Joe Lieberman has been doing whatever he could to prevent Congress from moving forward on real health care reform, so I wasn’t at all surprised when the news broke that he would be joining the Republican filibuster if people aged 55 to 64 were able to purchase Medicare coverage. He’s already announced that he couldn’t support a public option (perhaps even if it included a trigger) and had constantly speaking out against proposals put forth by the Democratic majority, so it simply made sense that he’d likely speak out against the latest compromise since it wasn’t what insurance companies supported. What is truly frustrating, however, is that White House officials apparently have been urging Sen. Harry Reid to make a deal with Lieberman.
I understand that the White House wants to get the legislation passed since Obama has spent a lot of political capital on the issue, but it doesn’t do any good if Congress passes a bill simply for the sake of passing legislation. In fact, making yet another deal with Lieberman could actually do the country some harm because it would take away some of the urgency of needing reform even though we wouldn’t be much better off. On top of that, it would empower Lieberman by showing him that he can get whatever he wants by simply threatening to join a filibuster. Of course by letting him keep his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee, the White House and Senate leadership has already proven that there won’t be any consequences for Lieberman if he goes against the will of his constituents and the American people in general.
In case you believe that Lieberman is actually trying to stand up for what he believes is right, there is amble evidence that Lieberman has made it clear on several occasions in the last few months that he would support allowing people aged 55 to 64 buy in to Medicare. He expressed his support for the concept during an interview with a newspaper in his home state of Connecticut back in September and apparently had also told Senate leadership that he’d be supporting the move shortly after the deal had been made. His sudden flip flop, however, has definitely made him the center of attention once again and it appears as though some people are ready to give him whatever he wants just to get his vote.
Now Politico is reporting that Harry Reid is so frustrated with Lieberman that he’s a little uneasy following through with the recommendations made by Rahm Emmanuel and others to negotiate with Lieberman. I therefore believe that it is extremely important for people to remind Reid that the American people do not think the Senate should cave in to every demand Lieberman makes. While it is especially important for Nevadans to contact Reid’s office on this issue, everyone can do so by simply calling 202.224.3542. When you call in, politely let his staff know that you support letting people aged 55 to 64 buy into Medicare and that you expect him to support that as the Majority Leader.
UPDATE: Here's the video of Sen. Lieberman talking with a local newspaper about why he supported a Medicare buy in for people age 55-64. Of course, back then that was his reasoning for not supporting the public option. Now that Senate leadership was ready to compromise on the public option, Lieberman has all of a sudden changed decided that he can't support this concept either.