Nelson And Lieberman: No Public Option Of Any Kind

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on December 14, 2009

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That’s the import of this story. At some point, we will all have to ask what part of the words “no public option of any kind” do Democrats on the Hill and in the White House not understand.

True to form, Ezra Klein opines that there is no possible way that Lieberman’s opposition to any kind of public option bill can be principled in any way, shape, or form. Rather, Klein feels it is safe for him to say that Lieberman is “willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.”

Perhaps Klein has decided–on a dare of some sort–to demagogue the issue of health care reform. He is off to a strong start in doing so. I doubt that Klein will be embarrassed by his over-the-top reaction to–gasp!–dissent, but shouldn’t the Washington Post feel as though it has a little egg on its face thanks to having an in-house blogger engage in the rhetoric of slime and smear?

UPDATE: In a long, strange post, Klein responds to me by trying to prove his point that Lieberman really does lack principles. We at the New Ledger appreciate the attention from the Washington Post, but as the saying goes, Klein’s response raises more questions than it answers.

For one thing, Klein points out that as a Vice Presidential candidate, Lieberman supported the Medicare buy-in as a part of the Gore-Lieberman platform, thus supposedly raising the question of why he is opposing it now. In shocking news, it has been reported in the past that Vice Presidential candidates–and actual Vice Presidents as well–swallow hard at times to support positions that the people at the top of the ticket promote. George H.W. Bush supported “voodoo economics” after running against it in the 1980 primaries and caucuses. Joe Biden is on board with a troop increase in Afghanistan after having opposed it in private. Lieberman’s decision to support a Medicare buy-in as part of the Gore-Lieberman ticket should come as little surprise; he was doing what Vice Presidents are supposed to do by following his boss’s lead. Similarly it should come as little surprise that nearly a decade later, Lieberman may have changed his mind. If Klein wants to argue that Lieberman was being excessively political back in 2000 with his support of the Gore Medicare buy-in, he might have a stronger argument. He has a weaker one in stating that Lieberman has sacrificed principles for crass reasons with his latest stance; given the fact that Lieberman is an independent agent, it is more likely that his stance today is in accord with his private and heartfelt views than it was in 2000 when he had to salute every time that Al Gore issued a policy commandment.

Klein also treats the scores of the Congressional Budget Office as “verdicts.” Funny; he was not doing that earlier this year, when CBO was stating that the various health care reform plans being considered by Democrats would bust the budget. In any event, Klein’s claim that Democratic health care plans would reduce the deficit has hardly gone unchallenged. I am sure that the use of budget gimmicks are convenient way to claim that the health care reform envisioned by the White House and Congressional Democrats will reduce the deficit. But it’s certainly not an honest way to make that claim.

As a final matter, it remains highly offensive that Klein is acting like the Washington Post’s version of Alan Grayson; claiming that anyone opposed to his health care policy proposals has blood on their hands. Klein & Co. should realize that they have neither a monopoly on wisdom, nor one on virtue. There are other ideas out there on how best to bring about health care reform, and those ideas should be taken seriously. Too bad that Klein treats opposing thought the way Democrats accuse Republicans of responding to counter-arguments; by refusing to engage the substance, and by instead, questioning the motives of the arguer without any basis whatsoever.

  • todd432

    What a mess. They gave and gave and gave, for what? That's what you get when you bend over backwards for the likes of Lieberman,Lincoln,Nelson and Landrieu. The best way to handle this is to put the best possible public option in and go for the vote. The popularity of this bill really stated to tank the moment concessions on the public option began. Make those 4 undercover republics go on record against the heath care so the Dems have some donkeys to pin the tail on and let the voters sort it out next year. The public option is the only part of the bill that has consistently showed decent support throughout the process.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/V7LGTBIAONDXFOC4A7LRH6LD7U George

    It amazes me when supporters trot out this bs about blood on one's hands. Will they admit to blood on their hands when certain people are denied treatments under the healthcare plan? Everything in life is a tradeoff. This means that if we really want to control costs (without ridiculous ploys like they have in the existing bills) some people will be denied treatments (mamograms for women over 50 and not 40 anyone??) and some of those people will die. As a society, we will have made the decision that it is acceptable for those people to die in order for the greater good (ie: more affordable health care). Somehow I doubt Klein would give much credence to this reality.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/V7LGTBIAONDXFOC4A7LRH6LD7U George

    >> The popularity of this bill really stated to tank the moment concessions on the public option began.

    Todd, you're kidding yourself if you believe that its all about a public option. It all depends upon how one sees a public option. If it is some magical mystery ride where everyone suddenly gets insurance and its free and our health care is wonderful and nobody is ever denied treatments, then yea, everyone loves that. In the world called reality, there is no free ride. A public option may be all well and good but the reality is that for it to work, costs have to be reduced and that means limiting medical services. This will result in some people dying because of the cost cutting. If that's what we are choosing to do as a society then so be it. But I hardly believe that's a world where everyone is applauding the Dems for their “bravery.”

    The reality is that a health care bill could have been done very easily – explain its going to cost alot and then put everyone that does not have health insurance under medicaid or medicare. Increase premiums in those areas so doctors and hospitals are not getting the shaft as they are now. The real bravery is telling the country we have to do health care so everyone is covered and its going to be expensive. But we have to swallow this expense because its the RIGHT THING TO DO. I don't see anyone doing that. But that would call for REAL bravery…

  • http://somercet.livejournal.com/ somercet

    That's hilarious! The public option is the one thing that has never cracked 50% support, so obviously its fall would be less dramatic. Try this: The Real Lessons of '94.

  • rookwood

    It simply amazes me the number of people who fall for the guilt trip crap everytime. First, if you disagree with anything, you must be a racist. Now if you don't want women and doctors murdering unborn infants during the trimester, you are against a women's right to chose. NO I'M NOT!!! If you want to cut off your arm, that's fine with me and I'll provide you the saw.

    Turning 65 next month, I feel I do have an entitlement to receive a return on MY investment for all those years I contributed to the system. Now, they want to gut the system to provide for abortions of which I am strongly opposed to and health care for people who are not legal citizens. Sorry, I do not feel one bit of guilt.

    So, please do not try and tell me I am not a compassionate person. I'm only being a realist and understand fully that there can never be peace thruout the world and there will always be people who have less than others. Someone has a conscious and people want to rip on them – that's too funny. Go play with Gore and Obamby!

  • todd432

    I don't think you're a raciest or a bad person for your beliefs, just a bit ignorant perhaps and seriously misinformed. If it was not for the poor or the immigrants we would not have won WW1 or WW2. A real realist would realize that if you cant take care of those in need now, they may not be there when and if you need them.

  • rookwood

    todd432,

    You are right in that I am ignorant and (seriously) misinformed – about many things. However, if I led anyone to believe I do not support the poor and immigrants in this country, then I am more guilty of not expressing myself properly.

    My hometown, Cincinnati, was developed by old world Italian, Irish and German immigrants who were, and remain, essential to this city. This country would not be what it is today if not for the immigrant population. My company would have folded in the 90s if not for the hispanics who did meaningful residential construction work I couldn't get lazy Americans to do. They would come to the jobsite before the sun rose and worked diligently all day until the sun set – 7 days a week. I do, however, take issue with the term 'illegal' immigrant the same as I do with anything illegal. Is this their problem or a problem with our politicians? Most likely, a little of both. The American dream is one sought by people thruought the world. We just need to be able to manage the influx of immigrants effectively.

    With regards to the sick and poor, my wife and I devote a great deal of our time and resources to helping the sick, needy and elderly in our community. I don't believe any intelligent and informed person in this country doesn't see a need for some degree of health reform. But I do not want a government takeover of the health industry. What social program has the government ever shown any degree of credibility in being able to manage efficiently?

    There can never be a world without war…without sickness…without hunger. Is it right? No! Is it immoral? Yes! But it is fact – as seen from the eyes of a realist.

  • jbb09

    Boy, this is pretty hilarious — especially the part where the author of this post is apparently completely unaware that, less than 3 months ago, Lieberman was quite clear in his support for Medicare buy-in for 50+. Only once it became a viable compromise to advance health care reform did he suddenly change his mind on its merits, and now asserts that his own proposal from 90 days prior is evil. If you can't put the puzzle pieces together, I really don't know how your shoes become attached to your feet in the morning. The rest of this piece is just comprised of embarrassingly bad logic and ad hom attacks on Klein, who actually backs up his arguments most of the time.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Only once it became a viable compromise to advance health care reform did he suddenly change his mind on its merits, and now asserts that his own proposal from 90 days prior is evil.

    We congratulate you on your ability to read Joe Lieberman's mind. Oh, wait, you can't do that.

    If you can't put the puzzle pieces together, I really don't know how your shoes become attached to your feet in the morning.

    I tie my shoes. If you are unaware of how that works, you shouldn't be mocking the intellects of others.

    The rest of this piece is just comprised of embarrassingly bad logic and ad hom attacks on Klein, who actually backs up his arguments most of the time.

    Aaaand . . . you just showed the public that you don't know what ad hominem means. I defy you to find one ad hominem thing that I wrote about Klein in this post. Hint: Critiquing someone does not constitute an ad hominem attack.

  • Pejman_Yousefzadeh

    Only once it became a viable compromise to advance health care reform did he suddenly change his mind on its merits, and now asserts that his own proposal from 90 days prior is evil.

    We congratulate you on your ability to read Joe Lieberman's mind. Oh, wait, you can't do that.

    If you can't put the puzzle pieces together, I really don't know how your shoes become attached to your feet in the morning.

    I tie my shoes. If you are unaware of how that works, you shouldn't be mocking the intellects of others.

    The rest of this piece is just comprised of embarrassingly bad logic and ad hom attacks on Klein, who actually backs up his arguments most of the time.

    Aaaand . . . you just showed the public that you don't know what ad hominem means. I defy you to find one ad hominem thing that I wrote about Klein in this post. Hint: Critiquing someone does not constitute an ad hominem attack.

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