WALL STREET JOURNAL: Senate Democrats on Monday evening dropped a plan to expand Medicare, winning the support of moderates and the reluctant acquiescence of liberals, in another major step toward building enough support to pass a health-care overhaul. The idea of letting people ages 55 to 64 buy into Medicare, announced just last week, had threatened to explode the Democrats’ hopes of getting a bill through the Senate when Sen. Joseph Lieberman came out against it. MORE
EZRA KLEIN: Previously, Lieberman had been cool to the idea, saying he wanted to make sure it wouldn’t increase the deficit or harm Medicare’s solvency (and previously to that, he supported it as part of the Gore/Lieberman health-care plan). That comforted some observers, as the CBO is expected to say it will do neither. Someone must have given Lieberman a heads-up on that, as he’s decided to make his move in advance of the CBO score, the better to ensure the facts of the policy couldn’t impede his opposition to it. To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill’s failure that much more. And if there’s a policy rationale here, it’s not apparent to me, or to others who’ve interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals.[A]t this point, the underlying dynamic seems to be that Lieberman will destroy any compromise the left likes. That, in fact, seems to be the compromise: Lieberman will pass the bill if he can hurt liberals while doing so. MORE
TA-NEHESI COATES: Joe Lieberman is neither manifesting long-held views or being brought to heel by the politics of his state. (Quite the contrary.) Still, Lieberman could make an argument against the current bill outlining his own thinking, and how it’s changed. But Lieberman hasn’t done that. Instead he’s put forth the kind of logic that make you question either his understanding of the public option he so vociferously opposes, or his intellectual honesty. What your left with is neither policy nor politics, but an ethic of fanatic spite. Lieberman, once celebrated as an iconoclast, is now (regarding health care) an ideologue of the worst order–one pledged to his own grievance and insatiable need to settle scores. MORE
HARPERS: When he was seeking reelection in 2006, Joe Lieberman campaigned as a supporter of healthcare reform and expressed his support for “universal healthcare.” When the rubber hit the road, however, Lieberman emerged as a frontline warrior for the healthcare industry in its efforts to block reform. Yesterday, he not only noted his opposition to the very modest public option contained in the legislation that Majority Leader Harry Reid put forward, he also stated that he would cross the aisles to support a Republican filibuster. Should we be surprised? No. Lieberman has long been one of the industry’s favorite players on the hill, accepting more than $1 million in campaign contributions from the insurance industry and more than $600,000 from pharmaceuticals and related healthcare-products companies. But his ties run deeper than that. His wife Hadassah previously worked for two lobbying firms, Hill & Knowlton and APCO, handling matters for their healthcare and pharmaceuticals clients. Throughout the 2006 campaign, Lieberman pointedly refused to discuss the scope of his wife’s engagement for the healthcare industry or even the specific clients for whom she was working. But there seems to have been plenty of opportunity for synergy with Lieberman’s work in Congress. MORE
THE NEW REPUBLIC: I’ve been saying for a while that Joe Lieberman posed the greatest threat to health care reform. Unlike the rest of the party, he has no political interest in the passage of reform or a successful Obama presidency, and he seems to view the prospect of sticking it to the liberals who supported his Democratic opponent in 2006 as a goal potentially worth sacrificing the lives of tens of thousands of Americans to fulfill. (Of course, the irony is that Lieberman is actually vindicating his 2006 critics and undermining his own defense from that time, which revolved around him being a progressive Democrat on domestic policy issues.)
I also think liberals, myself included, might be driving ourselves a little nuts trying to divine Lieberman’s motives. He keeps flip-flopping and explaining his shifts by making demonstrably false claims. What’s his game? Why does he keep saying these wrong, uninformed things? I think one answer here is that Lieberman isn’t actually all that smart. He speaks, and seems to think, exclusively in terms of generalities and broad statements of principle. But there’s little evidence that he’s a sharp or clear thinker, and certainly no evidence that he knows or cares about the details of health care reform.
I suspect that Lieberman is the beneficiary, or possibly the victim, of a cultural stereotype that Jews are smart and good with numbers. Trust me, it’s not true. If Senator Smith from Idaho was angering Democrats by spewing uninformed platitudes, most liberals would deride him as an idiot. With Lieberman, we all suspect it’s part of a plan. I think he just has no idea what he’s talking about and doesn’t care to learn. Lieberman thinks about politics in terms of broad ideological labels. He’s the heroic centrist voice pushing legislation to the center. No, Lieberman doesn’t have any particular sense of what the Medicare buy-in option would do to the national debt. If the liberals like it, then he figures it’s big government and he should oppose it. I think it’s basically that simple. MORE
TRUE SLANT: Insurance money was the single-largest source of Lieberman’s PAC funding
RHODES COOK: All I can say is that he should thank his lucky stars that he is still in the Senate. Many states have ‘sore loser’ laws that prevent candidates who lose in a party primary from coming back and running as an independent in the general election, as Lieberman did in 2006. They force candidates to pick one venue or the other but do not allow them two bites at the apple in one year. Connecticut, though, does not have such a sore loser law, which permitted Lieberman to continue a Senate career that since 2006 has become increasingly anti-Democratic. MORE
DAILY KOS: “Health care reform is still in the cards, no thanks to Republicans and their ally, Joe Lieberman (Party of One-Conn.). If Democrats and independents didn’t get it when Joe supported [George W.] Bush on Iraq or [Sen. John] McCain in the election, they might get it now. Lieberman is beholden to the insurance companies in Hartford and wants no part of anything that will help their customers or his constituents. (In Connecticut, they heavily favor the public option.) Lieberman won with independent support, breaking promises every step along the way, and this is his payback to Connecticut residents like myself. National Journal, in its year-end poll, features significant political insider distrust of Joe (along with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann), the price of going rogue and mugging for the cameras. But whether health reform is done with or without Joe Lieberman, by reconciliation or by 60 votes, something will pass. The real questions, as always with the Senate, are: “What is it that will pass, and will it be enough?” MORE
PREVIOUSLY: Public Option In Critical Condition After Car Crash
PREVIOUSLY: RIP: Public Option Taken Off Life Support
PREVIOUSLY: HEY, JOE LIEBERMAN: What Part Of ‘The American Public Wants A Public Option’ Don’t You Understand?
PREVIOUSLY: WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS WHO NEEDS ENEMAS: Lieberman To Filibuster Any Bill With Public Option