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The only argument that matters

My colleagues Alec McGillis and Lois Romano do a nice job pointing out the utter bankruptcy of Joe Lieberman's approach to the public option:

Lieberman says the public option is a sop to supporters of full government-run health insurance. He argues that the proposal lacks public support, although polls show a majority favor the concept. He says the government has no place in providing health insurance, despite its role in overseeing Medicare and Medicaid.

Most of all, he insists that a public option would drive the country further into debt. But this argument muddles how the new system will function and is at odds with independent assessments.

Under the Senate and House bills, those without employer-provided coverage would get income-based government subsidies to help buy coverage in a new insurance marketplace. The case for the public option is to reduce the cost of those subsidies by forgoing profits and reimbursing providers at lower rates, and by private insurers' rates lower via competition. A strong public option would lower the bill's cost by tens of billions of dollars, the Congressional Budget Office found.

Of course, this will have literally zero implications for Lieberman's standing in this town, his prominence on major news shows, or the respect he's accorded by his colleagues. What Lieberman figured out is that he possesses something much more important than a good argument. He's got the Democrats' 60th vote.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 8, 2009; 6:23 PM ET
 
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Comments

What Lieberman figured out is that the majority of the MSM won't call him on this. Where again in the WaPo was this buried, Ezra? Did Fred Hait and the rest of the Op-Ed collection of pundits call Lieberman out as being a serial liar on his constantly changing position on this?

I suspect Lieberman could be shamed on this. He is such an egotist that if he very publically was called a completely liar by everyone but the Fox News of the world (while also pointing out his personal financial interst in killing healthcare), he would pull himself back in and *not* filibuster.

But that's not happening.

So he ignores pieces like the one you link to. Tweeks the Progressives, and retains enough of his "respect" in the DV Village that he still can see himself as a Very Important & Respected Man.

John

Posted by: toshiaki | December 8, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I once listened, via C-SPAN radio, to Joe Lieberman and Susan Collins run a hearing regarding swine flu vaccine. They could not have been more self-important, chidingly paternalistic, or mutually congratulatory in their manner. In that light, Lieberman's healthcare-related behavior doesn't surprise me in the slightest.

Posted by: Bertilak | December 8, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

"He's got the Democrats' 60th vote. "

Yup, and no real financial ties to the DNC, or dems in general, other than what he wants. He has committee seniority, but that too is held hostage by the 60th vote, for every piece of future legislation. And the hammer is made bigger by the GOP opposing everything dems do aiming to get their mojo back by making dems fail. Lieberman is Cinderella with the clock stopped at 11:00 pm/

Posted by: arnold104 | December 8, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

"He argues that the proposal lacks public support, although polls show a majority favor the concept."

It's only been what, two days since Ezra was pointing out that the overwhelming majority of the public don't even know what the public option is. Yet somehow this quoted sentence is somehow part of a good argument?

Posted by: ab13 | December 8, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Again, the Village may admire Joe Lieberman but the Democratic base hates him with a vengeance. We see people like Reid and Dodd protecting him, and I think that's going to have negative repercussions in 2010.

Posted by: bmull | December 8, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

"What Lieberman figured out is that he possesses something much more important than a good argument. He's got the Democrats' 60th vote."

Hmm, so politicians can hinder what Ezra believes is good policy merely to serve their own self-interest. Then what a great idea to give them more control over our health care system!

Posted by: ab13 | December 8, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse

He just wants to stick it to Obama for ruining his opportunity to be Secretary of State in the McCain administration.

Posted by: glewiss | December 8, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly has been doing a great job of keeping track of Lieberman's changing rationale for opposing the public option, all of which don't make any sense. Here's Steve's post on #7 (that it's a part of a big conspiracy to get rid of private insurance): http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_12/021311.php

Posted by: meander510 | December 8, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

It's a pity that Reid and the Democrats, because at this juncture it's important to do so, couldn't amend the Senate's procedural rules to do away altogether with the filibuster. Lieberman AND the blue dogs would be instantly marginalized (hilariously), as they need to be, and we'd have a chance for some actual health care reform. (But I suppose the filibuster protects itself.)

Posted by: jonboinAR | December 9, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Could a constitutional argument be made seriously against the filibuster, even without the filibuster tradition or senate rule or whatever it is having an actual law against it. Could a citizen's body sue to have the filibuster removed?

Posted by: jonboinAR | December 9, 2009 8:40 AM | Report abuse

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