Sen. Joe Lieberman has been the least popular person on Capitol Hill among Democrats since coming out against the Medicare buy-in provision in the Senate health care bill yesterday, which was thought to be already ironed out as a compromise with moderates. Today, he spoke briefly with reporters at the Capitol about why he opposes it.
"The reason I was against the public option is the same reason that a lot of people are worried about this overall health care proposal, which is that they think it's getting too big and they worry that it's gonna increase their taxes and increase the national debt that their child and grandchildren are gonna have to pay," Lieberman said.
(UPDATE: See video of Lieberman's remarks below.)
And, answering the most widespread criticism of late--that he switched stances on the Medicare buy-in provision, which he supported during the 2000 presidential campaign:"I didn't change my mind on the Medicare buy-in," Lieberman said.
"In the 2000 campaign, when I was privileged to be Al Gore's running mate," Lieberman said, the Medicare buy-in was part of the Democratic Party platform. "But a lot of things have changed in nine years," Lieberman said.
"In 2000, the federal government was in surplus...secondly, Medicare wasn't on the verge of imminent bankruptcy...third, there wasn't a bill on the floor now that would extend very generous subsidies to those 55 to 64 year-olds," Lieberman said. "Things changed a lot."
"Here's the point," he said. "It ended up, seems to me, when advocates of the public option found out they didn't have the votes...[they] tried to get it down another path. It made no sense."
Lieberman also noted that he's not the only member of the Democratic caucus to oppose the Medicare buy-in provision, and that he supports health care reform as a whole, calling the Democratic project a "historic achievement, health care reform such as we never have seen in this country."