While the jury is still out on the benefits of the Senate Democrats' compromise health insurance reform plan, in which the public option is forfeited for an extension of Medicare benefits, "Holy Joe" Lieberman proved this weekend that his heart was, indeed, two sizes too small.
Lieberman's vote is critical to the bill's prospects,
and he made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows to threaten to join
Republicans in opposing health care legislation if it permits uninsured
individuals as young as 55 to purchase Medicare coverage -- the
so-called "Medicare buy-in" option.
"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," Lieberman moaned on Face the Nation yesterday.
Lieberman reiterated his resistance to a public option, then made other demands: "You've got to take out the Medicare buy-in, you've got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit. And you've got to adopt some of the cost containment provisions that will strengthen cost containment, that all of us favor."
Gee, Joe, after you're done slicing and dicing, what's left? Mandatory private sector insurance that will make the BIG INSURANCE companies and BIG PHARMA even richer on the backs of the poorest Americans? Just as in the Dr. Seuss holiday fable, seems Lieberman won't even leave the tiniest crumb of coverage on the floor for those who desperately need meaningful reform.
Then the Greenie got meaner. According to The New York Times,
"Mr. Lieberman is also insisting that he will not vote for a fallback
public option that would create a government-run program if the
legislation otherwise fails to accomplish its goals. The Class Act is a
reference to a proposed long-term care insurance program that was
included in the bill."
Lieberman's other conditions were eliminating a government insurance program focused on home health care for the disabled. Forget the Grinch, he's more like an unreformed Scrooge, making sure Tiny Tim is hobbled forever.
I guess you're keeping your government-run insurance,
though,right Joe? You've got your coverage (and Hadassah's) for the
rest of your life. Just making sure there's no long-term care for all
the other grandpas and grannies out there. Ironically, Holy Joe
himself based his campaign on a platform of universal health coverage back in 2006:
What I'm saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance.
October 23, 2006:
I've been working on health insurance reform for more than a dozen years" I have offered a comprehensive program. Small business health insurance reform, plus something I call MediKids to cover all the children in America on a sliding fee basis up until the age of 25. MediChoice to allow anybody in our country to buy into a national insurance pool like the health insurance pool that we federal employees and Members of Congress have. Medical malpractice reform.
I guess that's before he was driven mad by all the joyful holiday singing down in Whoville.
Following his declarations on Face the Nation, Lieberman
later held a strongly-worded private meeting with Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid. Reid had hoped to pass the legislation by Christmas,
needs 60 votes to do so,and has been counting on Lieberman to provide
one of those 60. Democratic aides, speaking anonymously, said Lieberman
told Reid he would actually go so far as to support a Republican-led
filibuster against the bill if it contained any of the provisions (such
as long term elder care, or help for the disabled) that he opposed.
Then he tied some antlers on his basset hound and set off in his sleigh to steal all the Who-pudding and holiday trees.