Health Care Reform on the Ropes: Will Nelson and Lieberman Deliver the Knock-out Punch?

December 14, 2009

(ChattahBox)—The historic passage of a bill to reform our nation’s broken health care system, after months of hard work and wrangling by both sides of Congress, could be killed by two willful Senators, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Ben Nelson (D-NE). The traitorous and spiteful Lieberman has no shame. And despite “voicing his support” to Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) Medicare buy-in compromise last week, after the public option was removed to appease him and several conservative Democrats, Holy Joe Lieberman betrayed his Senate colleagues and the American people once again. Lieberman appeared on the Sunday talk shows, vowing to work with Republicans to kill the bill.

Lieberman informed Senate Majority Leader Reid of his betrayal on Sunday, angering Reid when he already removed the public option, after threats from Lieberman that he would join Republicans in filibustering the bill if it contained a public option. One Senate aide told CNN “Democratic leadership was shocked about how strident Lieberman was in his opposition to the Medicare proposal when he went on the Sunday shows.”

“It’s all coming down to one guy who’s prepared to vote against the interests of children and families in Connecticut who need health care reform,” said the Senate Democratic leadership aide. Lieberman is not only threatening to vote against a bill with a Medicare buy-in provision, but he also intends to vote against cloture to prevent the bill from ever reaching the Senate floor for a vote.

Appearing on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” alongside Sen. Nelson, Lieberman rattled off his conditions for voting for health care reform: “I don’t know exactly what’s in it,” Lieberman told “Face the Nation” of the Medicare buy-in. But “from what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it.” Sen. Reid had asked lawmakers to hold off commenting on the proposal, until the bill was scored by the CBO.

Lieberman made it clear that a public option and expansion of Medicare was out. He also spoke about eliminating a proposed home health care plan for the disabled and he wanted more cost control measures. “We don’t need to keep adding on to the back of this horse until the horse breaks down and we get nothing done,” said Lieberman.

In other words, the traitorous Lieberman will come up with new excuses not to vote for health care reform, next week and the week after that, until the once in a generation chance to reform our broken health care system slips away.

Sen. Ben Nelson has been holding out for tougher anti-abortion language in the bill, before he would agree to support health reform. “It’s uphill,” said Nelson. “There are so many people who are committed to the legislation pretty much as it is. I don’t know how flexible they may be.” Nelson was allowed to submit his amendment limiting federal funds used for abortion procedures, fashioned after Rep. Bart Stupak’s (D-MI) measure, but it failed in the Senate.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has been working with Nelson to alter the language of the bill to find common ground with Nelson. “It looks like we’re making some progress,” said Boxer on Sunday. But Nelson didn’t sound like he was amenable to compromise. “I’ve carved out what I can live with and what I can’t live with,” Nelson said.

Nelson denied that he was being a stubborn obstructionist to much needed health care reform. “I’m not blockheaded and I’m not stubborn,” said Nelson. But yesterday, Nelson also joined Lieberman in opposing the Medicare buy-in measure. Nelson called the expansion of Medicare, “the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan.”

With total Republican opposition to just about anything proposed by the Democratic majority in the Senate, any bill needs 60 votes to just move forward for debate. Reid now is two votes short, placing the passage of health care reform in real peril. Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine is also opposed to the Medicare buy in provision. It seems now, that the only choice left to Reid is to cave into the traitorous Lieberman and pass a weakened bill, with the hopes of strengthening it in the future. But gutting true reforms from the bill would likely lose progressive votes.

The other option would be to use the parliamentary procedure of reconciliation to pass portions of the bill. But Reid has expressed his opposition to using reconciliation. And the procedure would cause further delay, with no guarantee that meaningful health reform provisions would survive.

Steve Benen of Washington Monthly’s Political Animal summed up the dilemma the Democrats and the nation would face, if Lieberman were successful in killing reform:

“The nation needs a health care bill. If it includes a public option, it can’t overcome a Republican filibuster and the bill dies. If it doesn’t include a public option, it can’t overcome opposition from the left and the bill dies. Countless Americans will continue to suffer; costs will continue to soar; the public will perceive Democrats as too weak and incompetent to act on their own agenda; the party will lose a lot of seats in the midterms and possibly forfeit its majority; and President Obama will have suffered a devastating defeat that will severely limit his presidency going forward. No one will even try to fix the dysfunctional system again for decades, and the existing problems will only get worse.”

What’s driving Lieberman’s betrayal? Is it based on pure policy? That hardly seems the case, as the former Democratic Senator, dreamed up at least half a dozen and counting, different reasons for opposing a public option. He has zero chance of becoming reelected. Perhaps he is positioning himself with the insurance companies to land a lucrative lobbyist job. And maybe he is just an angry, spiteful and bitter old man. Whatever the case, he is determined to deprive Americans of the health care reform that they desperately need. Thanks for nothing Holy Joe.

Source: Washington Post


14 Responses to “Health Care Reform on the Ropes: Will Nelson and Lieberman Deliver the Knock-out Punch?”

  1. Health Care Reform on the Ropes: Will Nelson and Lieberman Deliver … Health just to Me on December 14th, 2009 4:19 pm

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  8. Biden on Lieberman’s ‘Gamesmanship’ If Joe ‘Scuttles’ Health Bill, Won’t ‘Have Friend in the Lord’ | ChattahBox News Blog on December 15th, 2009 1:10 pm

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  10. Mike on December 16th, 2009 12:28 pm

    I would like to pose this question to any Senator worth their salt (assuming the senator is not a attorney). Why is TORT REFORM not a major component of this bill? Studies performed by and that liability insurance costs are approaching nearly one third of the operating expenses for specialty care physicians, units and facilities. Aside from medical provider costs, insurance carriers such as Humana Health Plans state that their costs of medical liability and defensive medicine accounts for nearly 10 cents out of every premium dollar collected (verified). Compare that to Humana’s reported pharmaceutical claims of 15 cents out of every premium dollar collected. Or better yet, 21 cents out of every premium dollar collected is paid back to physicians for physician treatments. Without TORT REFORM, medical provider costs will never drop.

  11. Fury Towards Lieberman Boils Over: ‘He is Playing us for Chumps’ | ChattahBox News Blog on December 16th, 2009 3:58 pm

    […] will take a long time to heal the divisions in the Democratic party. But whatever happens, liberals view Lieberman as a dead man walking and […]

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    […] that a whopping 67 percent of all Connecticut residents disapprove of Lieberman. Holy Joe’s recent antics of dealing in bad faith with the Democratic Caucus, as he held health care reform hostage and […]

  14. Michael M. on January 15th, 2010 3:06 pm

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    But, like never before we fear for our future, perhaps even our ability to survive. We do not fear off shore manufacturers, other companies with better ideas nor the ups and downs that will occur in any economy.

    What we fear is our own out-of-control government, with its “too big to fail” bailouts, back-room giveaways and irresponsible spending. Congress and the White House are ignoring the working, employing and taxpaying Americans that keep this nation afloat. Our government is shamelessly manipulating numbers, facts and messages to gain more control and more power. They are handing out massive pay-offs and bribes with money we work to earn…money that our unborn children will be on the hook for.

    Why is it that, when Iran is defying the world to develop nuclear weapons and millions of Americans must now start their days without jobs, Healthcare Reform, Cap & Tax and Global Warming are at the top of this government’s “gotta do now” list ?

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    Stop Spending Our Money Now !

    Comfortex, Inc, Management & Associates

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