Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Oh, Ease Up on Joe Already

The Democratic rhetoric coming from Capitol Hill today beating on Joe Lieberman is, in the least, disingenuous.

The public option has not been tenable for months. It was not just Lieberman that has been against it in all forms--robust Medicare-like or the neutered variety in the House and Senate bills.

All of the liberals claiming they weren't going to vote for a health bill without a public option have known all along they were going to have to ditch it to get a bill. But no one wanted to tell the base that.

But poor Joe was the one who stood up and took the bullet for all of the other moderates.

Fellow Democratic moderate Mary Landrieu said this last week:
"Some of us have found it very puzzling as to how this [the public option] became the centerpiece of the health care debate. So our hesitation whether it's Sen. Lieberman, Sen. Nelson, myself, Sen. Snowe -- you could go on and on -- there are 12 or more Democrats who've never understood the benefit of this debate being focused on a public option."
And, here is what Democratic Senator Kent Conrad said today:
"In a curious way, it may make it more possible to get something done because he wasn't the only one with these concerns, it's very clear - he vocalized concerns many were having."
Did Lieberman double cross the Dems by backing off on the Medicare buy-in deal? After all, he supported the idea when he ran with Gore nine years ago.

If you want to blame someone for blowing those chances up I'd point at these guys. Here's a quote from Lieberman yesterday:
“Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it’s the beginning of a road to single-payer. Jacob Hacker, who’s a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, ‘This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.'"
For the record this is what Hacker actually said: "But public option two, which was never on the agenda before, a buy-in to the actual Medicare program for 55- to 64-year-olds, is an enormous positive development. It’s actually the original idea, if you will, for the public option, simply letting people get into the Medicare program that provides broad, secure coverage at an affordable price.”

That kind of reaction to the Medicare buy-in is what really poisoned the well for the moderates. How could any of the moderates who have long been opposed to the public option embrace the Medicare buy-in as a public option alternative after that kind of defense of it?

On Friday, I posted that the Medicare buy-in was already dead and it was just a matter of how the liberals capitulated on the last vestige of the public option.

But poor Joe really set himself up to be the convenient liberal fall guy by getting out front all by himself on Sunday. He did the public option crowd up on the Hill a huge favor. Now, instead of telling their base there never was going to be a public option the liberals have poor Joe to blame.

"It's all Joe's fault there won't be a public option"--even though every Democrat on the Hill has known for weeks there never were close to 60 votes for it.

It takes 60 votes to pass something like health care reform. Those are the rules. When Republicans were in control a few years ago the Democrats weren't calling for the end to those rules. They were happy to use them to temper a conservative and partisan Republican House and Senate majority.

Connecticut sent us Lieberman--as an Independent not a Democrat--just like Minnesota sent us Franken and Alaska sent us Begich--both by tiny margins.

A health care bill takes 60 Senators--one by one.


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