We told you Joe Lieberman was bad news.
We told you he couldn’t be trusted. We told you that you should take the opportunity to replace him with a real Democrat. We told you that, if you re-elected him, he would continue stabbing Democrats in the back.
And heck, Connecticut’s Democratic voters agreed with us, handing Joe Lieberman a defeat in the Democratic primary. It looked like one of the worst Democrats in Congress was finally about to be forcibly retired.
But you didn’t listen. You told us that Lieberman was good enough, that he was “with us on everything but the war.” You encouraged him to run as a third-party candidate, you gave him money, you helped him wrangle the Republican votes that got him re-elected.
And what did Lieberman do? He continued stabbing Democrats in the back. And now, on health care reform, he’s stabbing both the Democratic Party and the American people in the back.
In the end, it wasn’t the much-maligned Ben Nelson, or Mary Landrieu, or Blanche Lincoln, or some Republican Senator who mangled health care reform–it was good old Joe Lieberman, playing the familiar stab-you-in-the-back game.
Lieberman has made his demands, and the Democratic leadership has already caved–they had to, they need 60 votes to pass any kind of health care reform whatsoever. And so now a heavily-compromised bill becomes even more compromised–say goodbye to the public option in any form. Say goodbye to allowing people between 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare.
And that’s still not enough. Lieberman’s response to the capitulation? “I want to take a look at these proposals before I sign on.” Even when you give him everything he wants he still gives himself the option to demand even more.
Yes, the health care reform bill still contains some good policies. But, in the end, it hands over far too much money to the same health insurance companies who caused this crisis to begin with. We had a real chance to cover everyone, to increase quality of care and lower costs, but conservatives kept demanding concessions and, as a result, the bill has become less and less effective as time has gone on.
So now we end up with a worse health care bill than we had before, which was worse than we had before that, and it’s all far worse than where we started from–all because conservatives like Joe Lieberman wanted their say, their pound of flesh.
Of course, this whole embarrassing, shameful interlude could have been avoided had Lieberman been defeated way back in 2006. So tonight’s health care capitulation belongs fully to those so-called Democrats who helped Joe Lieberman get re-elected–your hard work for a misguided cause destroyed health care reform even further.
UPDATE: Ezra Klein details why Lieberman’s game is even worse than it seems:
To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is [now] forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill’s failure that much more. And if there’s a policy rationale here, it’s not apparent to me, or to others who’ve interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.
There’s nobody out there quite like Joe Lieberman, nobody quite so willing to put himself and his petty personal vendettas so utterly and completely ahead of his fellow countrymen.