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Will Joe Lieberman Vote Against Health-Care Reform?

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This morning, Joe Lieberman told Don Imus that he couldn't vote for the Senate Finance Committee's bill. "I may have made a major error focusing on red state Democrats and overlooking Lieberman," writes Jonathan Chait.

Eh, maybe.

I could be proven wrong on this, but I'm not that worried about Lieberman. His name hasn't come up in any of the conversations I've had with Senate staffers about wavering members. And Democrats actually have a lot of leverage over Lieberman. They're in the majority, and likely to stay that way. He's chairman of a committee that he wants to keep, and that he needs Democratic votes to retain. Nor does he have enough friends left in the Senate to protect himself from reprisals if he defects on such a high-profile vote. In fact, plenty of Democrats would be all too glad to strip him of his power and prove that there are consequences for crossing the party. That would make his remaining years in office pretty miserable.

And for what? It may be that Lieberman's anger is such that he means to launch a kamikaze mission against health-care reform, but that's not been evident in his actions thus far. Meanwhile, Snowe's presence on the bill means his defection is unlikely to kill the legislation but certain to make the next few years of his life unpleasant. Ironically, for such a steadfast Middle East hawk, it's a lot like why even a nuclear Iran is deterrable: Lieberman has too much to lose, too little to gain, and hasn't proven himself irrational thus far.

Photo credit: By Chip Somodevilla -- Getty Images

By Ezra Klein  |  October 13, 2009; 4:37 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Comments

One must consider where Senator Eyore made these comments. He has been pandering (I want a stronger word here) to Imus for years. Imus is at a new station and getting Lieberman to say something folks notice gives Imus attention he would not otherwise get. When this consideration is added to the reasons you state why Senator Lieberman would not to rock his precarious Senate position I think we can feel confident that the Senator was again bloviating, at no risk to himself, in exchange for a few yucks from Imus and his crew of cynics.

Posted by: bergenhbergen | October 13, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

Go. Read. Digby.

Posted by: scarlota | October 13, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Right on, Ezra.

As long as Aetna is still in Connecticut, Lieberman will be a yes vote for reform. They want their share of those 47 million new government-mandated customers.

Posted by: Rick00 | October 13, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Another Lieberman quote today:

"Not vote for cloture? I wouldn't rule that possibility out - not at all," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats."

http://mediamatters.org/blog/200910130022

It really seems like to me that Lieberman is a "we can't afford it" deficit hawk who is trying as hard as he can to defeat cloture (or change the Baucus bill to be much less than what it is).

Posted by: JonShields31 | October 13, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

I think with Snowe on board than Lieberman is MORE likely to stay on board than not. Snowe, Lieberman, and Collins are close.

Plus Lieberman likes to be parts of "gangs of 6 or 12 or something" so expect him to team up with the centrist Dems to form a group that will try and shape the bill.

The Dems have too much leverage on LIEberman. Plus, there is ALWAYS reconciliation.

Posted by: maritza1 | October 13, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Why do the people of Connecticut send this jerk to the Senate?

What an idiot! If I were from that state I swear I'd vote for any generic Republican running against him just to displace him.

Posted by: bcbulger | October 13, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

I agree that he hasn't proven himself to be *that* irrational, but don't get carried away. As one person recently put it, one group argues to build a bridge while the other group argues against it. Being the middle of the road type, Lieberman want to build a bridge half-way across.

That's not rational.

Posted by: bcbulger | October 13, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

But he has proven himself dumb as a bag of hammers. Don't count him out of the stupid race yet.

Posted by: pj_camp | October 13, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

"Hellooo Mr. Frog!" called the scorpion across the water, "Would you be so kind as to give me a ride on your back across the river?"

"Well now, Mr. Scorpion! How do I know that if I try to help you, you wont try to kill me?" asked the frog hesitantly.

"Because," the scorpion replied, "If I try to kill you, then I would die too, for you see I cannot swim!"

Now this seemed to make sense to the frog. But he asked. "What about when I get close to the bank? You could still try to kill me and get back to the shore!"

"This is true," agreed the scorpion, "But then I wouldn't be able to get to the other side of the river!"

"Alright then...how do I know you wont just wait till we get to the other side and THEN kill me?" said the frog.

"Ahh...," crooned the scorpion, "Because you see, once you've taken me to the other side of this river, I will be so grateful for your help, that it would hardly be fair to reward you with death, now would it?!"

So the frog agreed to take the scorpion across the river.
- - -
The way Ezra tells the story the Scorpion and the Frog live happily ever after.

Posted by: jamusco | October 14, 2009 2:59 AM | Report abuse

bcbulgar wrote:
"Why do the people of Connecticut send this jerk to the Senate?"

Contrary to popular opinion, the Democratic & Independent voters i CT did not send this jerk to the Senate. The Republicans threw their own candidate under the bus and mounted all-out support for Joe. He is not the Senator from CT, he is the Senator from Tel Aviv. He will try to be the deciding vote in as many bills as possible so that he can stay in power. If he fails, he'll settle for a pyrrhic victory. We know Joe here in CT. You can have him.

Posted by: coach777b | October 14, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

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