by Andrew Sprung
Really bad news for the Democrats' health care reform efforts on Sunday - specifically, for the compromises worked out over the last week:
In a surprise setback for Democratic leaders, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, said on Sunday that he would vote against the health care legislation in its current form.The bill's supporters had said earlier that they thought they had secured Mr. Lieberman's agreement to go along with a compromise they worked out to overcome an impasse within the party.
But on Sunday, Mr. Lieberman told the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to scrap the idea of expanding Medicare and to abandon the idea of any new government insurance plan, or lose his vote.
Since Olympia Snowe has also come out against the Medicare expansion, it would appear that the Gang of 10's compromise is dead and that a bill can't get through the Senate with either a public option or Medicare expansion. Unless Lieberman makes one more grandstanding reversal. Or all of Barack Obama's courting of Snowe pays off somehow. Or Susan Collins has an epiphany. Or someone resigns abruptly and Santa is appointed to the Senate. Perhaps there's a glimmer of hope that a good CBO score would give one 'moderate' cover to reverse course on the Medicare expansion.
Personally, I'd rather the Democrats cave to Snowe's conditions than Lieberman's. With regard to Holy Joe, there's really nothing to say that Steve Benan and Ezra Klein haven't reiterated and documented about his intellectually dishonest, factually inaccurate, self-contradictory, self-serving, grandstanding opposition to the public option and his faux fiscal rectitude (see Benan here, Klein here and here ). This morning, Jonathan Cohn traces Lieberman's double-dealing and personal reversal specifically on the Medicare buy-in.
For the record, Jonathan Chait called Lieberman's brewing betrayal back on Oct. 27.