It is an odd contrast. Last night, I watched a movie, Invictus, that was about reconciliation, trust, hope, forgiveness and bringing out the best in people after a prolonged battle for control of a country. Today, I saw a man who has come to personify the opposite of all of those values. Joe Lieberman has come to personify divisiveness, distrust, despair and vindictiveness.
Are there any lengths to which Joe Lieberman will not go in order to punish the Democratic Party for denying him the nomination for senate three years ago? First, he stabs his party in the back and endorses John McCain for President. Then, after President Obama graciously forgives him and asks that he be accepted into the Democratic caucus and given a Chairmanship, he proceeds to fight tooth and nail against the Democratic agenda.
Now, not only is he fighting the Democratic Party on Health Care Reform, he is willing to make forty million Americans pay the price for his revenge. He is going about it in such a transparent way that it is impossible to come to any other conclusion than that he is doing this out of revenge. What do I mean?
Three years ago, Senator Lieberman came out in favor of expanding Medicare to those under 65. As AP reports here Ã http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091215/ap_on_bi_ge/us_lieberman_medicare_6 he said at the time regarding his proposals for Health Care Reform:
""My proposals were to basically expand the existing successful public health insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid" When it came to Medicare I was very focused on a group post 50, maybe more like post 55. People who have retired early, or unfortunately have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they're too young to qualify for Medicare and what I was proposing was that they have an option to buy into Medicare early and again on the premise that that would be less expensive than the enormous cost."
What did Joe Lieberman do when, in attempt to craft a compromise on Health Care Reform, the Democrats proposed EXACTLY what Joe Lieberman himself once proposed, i.e. that we extend Medicare to people 55 and over? The AP http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091214/ap_on_bi_ge/us_health_care_overhaul_18 reports that Lieberman said on Monday December 14:
"Though I don't know exactly what's in it, from what I hear, I certainly would have a hard time voting for it because it has some of the same infirmities that the public option did" "It will add taxpayer costs. It will add to the deficit. It's unnecessary""
So, Senator, why was this OK when you proposed it in 2006, but not now when Democrats are proposing this? Is the relevant phrase in this last sentence "Democrats are proposing this"? Come on Joe, at least make us work to connect the dots.
My readers, if you have an ex-spouse or ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend who couldn't get over the relationship, this probably seems familiar to you. While this is all too commonly seen behavior in failed relationships (emphasis on the "common" part of commonly when it is meant as unrefined and vulgar) I don't think we expect this behavior from someone in the US Senate.
From hearing and reading various analyses, it seems like Health Care Reform is now in a bit of a bind as a result. Never fear, I have a solution. Ezra Klein said Monday night on Countdown with Keith Olberman that Reconciliation would take a long time because it would mean starting over with house and senate committees, crafting a new bill, etc. I also understand that in order for reconciliation to be used, there has to be a budget impact on all sections of a bill. Fine, the House and Senate should immediately begin work on a reconciliation bill that is short and sweet and extends Medicare to all. A bill like that would probably be ten pages long and would take little time to craft. Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi should convene meetings with the chairs of the committees, hammer out a bill and fast-track them through their committees. Game, set, and 51 votes in the senate later, match.
After that, we can take the action that Senator Lieberman so richly deserves and strip him of his committee chairmanship. Then he can take his scorned-ex act to Hollywood or the stage or to the kiddie pool where it belongs.