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Venomous responsibility

My colleague Chuck Lane accuses me of a "venomous smear" against Joe Lieberman today, which is fair enough. He's hardly the first to see it that way. What is surprising is that Lane, well, agrees with my venomous smear. "I understand that [Lieberman] seems to bear a grudge against the Democratic liberals who tried to unseat him in 2006 because of his vote for the war in Iraq," writes Lane, "and that he might be engaged in a little pay back right now."

That's pretty much the ballgame, then. There are two component parts to my argument about Lieberman. The first is that the defeat of health-care reform will cost hundreds of thousands of lives. That's not a particularly controversial statement. It relies on data from the Institute of Medicine and the Urban Institute, both of which are credible sources who've been used, I'd wager, by Lieberman and The Washington Post editorial page in the past. The second is that Lieberman is being driven in part by pique, an assertion that I lay out the reasoning for here, and that Lane explicitly supports in his post.

Lane squares this circle, or attempts to, by saying that "Joe Lieberman does not oppose insuring everyone." True enough, but he's willing to destroy the effort if it includes a Medicare buy-in, which he supported in 2000? A policy, in fact, that he supported as recently as three months ago? And why? Because, as Lane says, he wants "a little pay back?" That, again, is exactly my point: It's morally irresponsible to imperil this effort in return for "a little pay back," just as it's been irresponsible for some on the left to suggest that the bill should be killed if it lacks a public option.

We have a very sterile policy debate in this country. We talk about things in terms of costs, not lives. It's the equivalent of conducting wars from the air: You hide the damage. That might be helpful, in some cases. Too much passion can impede clear thinking. But we run the danger of forgetting the implications of our actions. It's fine to speak in terms of costs so long as we do not forget to think in terms of lives.

Joe Lieberman is insured. Chuck Lane is insured. I am insured. If we get sick, we can go to the doctor. Studies show that our risk of death is substantially lower than those who are uninsured, as is our risk of medical bankruptcy, and chronic pain or impairment. Health-care reform, with or without the public option and the Medicare buy-in, will extend coverage to more than 30 million people. It will improve the coverage of tens of millions more.

The debate over this policy is whether it cuts the deficit, but the point of this policy is that it saves lives. Making that clear using numbers derived from the best empirical evidence we've had is not venomous. It's responsible. Threatening to sink the effort because you don't like a small corner of it is morally irresponsible. And we columnists should not grow so accustomed to the forced courtesies of Washington that we forget how to say so.

Not too long ago, Lieberman agreed that these lives were far too important to be sacrificed due to political pique. “Every campaign, as President Clinton reminded us, is about the future," Lieberman said in a 2006 debate against Ned Lamont. "And what I'm saying to the people of Connecticut, I can do more for you and your families to get something done to make health care affordable, to get universal health insurance."

If this is doing more, I'd hate to see doing less.

By Ezra Klein  |  December 14, 2009; 1:53 PM ET
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Next: White House encouraging Reid to cut a deal with Lieberman


the truth will set you free...and incur the wrath of others particularly when you are speaking truth to power...especially when the power is corrupt as is Joe "me first, last and always" Lieberman.

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you not to demur in the face of the rebukes of others...just don't sacrifice your position, the WPost can't afford to loose an ethical and talented journalist such as yourself...

Posted by: teoc2 | December 14, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

with the exception of you, ezra, i do not give the wapo traffic (and i'm a berkshire hathaway shareholder, so i have an incentive to give them traffic!), and i can't say as the name chuck lane is familiar to me: does he really not get that he has conceded the point?

there's a reason so many of us think there is no future for the editorial page, and chuck lane has presumably just provided a data point supporting that reason: rather than speaking truth to power, today's beltway op-ed writers speak friendship to power.

Posted by: howard16 | December 14, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein >> Charles Lane.

PS: Charles Lane lifts lines from Amazon product descriptions to use in his postings on the Post-Partisan blog. See his defense of cutting the minimum wage and compare some of the language to Amazon's product description of Neumark and Wascher's "Minimum Wage".

Posted by: atlasfugged | December 14, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Other than you, there's nothing here. Gene Robinson is a good guy, but I could write most of his columns. I'm glad you've got this platform and national reach that's undoubtedly bigger than the Prospect was, but these folks at WaPo may be your "colleagues" but none is your peer. The opinion journalism here is just the same old lazy, entitled club. It's ironic that none of the "professionals" bring as much to the table as a young guy who rose out of the maligned blogosphere. But that's the reality. I'm sure you have to be polite to these people, but they don't matter. Not even a little bit.

Posted by: brucds | December 14, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Cross posting:

This is certainly not the first instance where an insistence on decorum has appeared against a backdrop of unecessary carnage. Certainly the debate over the Iraq war included many people decrying the incivility of protesters while blithely defending "Shock and Awe"

Posted by: PhD9 | December 14, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Good work Ezra. Now how about dismantling Lane's lame column today demanding a reduction in the minimum wage. The other two suggestions in Lane's op-ed today are apt (end price supports for sugar) or defensible (repeal the Davis-Bacon Act), but attacking the minimum wage with selective research citations is just lame. Have it him.

Posted by: ramendel | December 14, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Bring Lieberman up on charges, attempted murder. He deserves it. Hundreds of thousands, heck, while we're picking scary numbers out of the air lets say a million, tens of them, will die if health care reform isn't passed. These folks will die. Do you folks not get what I'm saying? Could be your Mom, your Dad, your children, will die. Could be you. Do you feel a little sick today? uh huh, thought so, it's that death coming on. All thanks to Joe, and the evil right wing of course. In fact, last year health care reform wasn't passed and 45,000 died directly as a result. how do we let this happen? year before that as well. Can we bring all of Congress up on charges? Ted Kennedy gets a +1 on the numbers at least. Hundreds of thousands. this is not disputable, some institute did a study and I looked at the results. millions. Aren't you guys reading me and buying this stuff? Aren't you? Lets try it again. Humans, little children, will die. They are dying now, thanks to Joe. You will die as well. Lets not let the politics of fear get in the way of stopping this mass murder.

Posted by: permagrin | December 14, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Forget the forced courtesies of DC, Ezra and keep calling Lieberman on his BS. The fact that anyone in the media still considers him a "responsible" centrist is absurd. He's a mendacious egotistical jerk, hell bent on getting revenge. It's impossible to negotiate with him. Here's hoping Snowe will be amenable to some kind of reasonable compromise.

Posted by: scudderw | December 14, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

You attacked a sacred cow of the village and now the guardians at the gate are lashing out. If Chuck Lane thinks that your first post was a "venomous smear" then he has microscopically thin skin. Either that, or he's a sanctimonious blowhard.

Posted by: snrub | December 14, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Do not let second-raters like this Charles Lane bully you. I have been at health politics and policy a hell of a long time and you are the only person at the Post who's given me ANY useful information for years. It is not a "smear" to tell the truth.Stop giving those pathetic souls who think it's even possible to "smear" Holy Joe any more of your attention. Take the afternoon off and then get back tomorrow to being the only real journalist in town.

Posted by: mlcasey | December 14, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Charles Lane is a Cato Institute dittohead.

And you are currently the best thing at the WaPo-- you go, Ezra.

Posted by: drindl | December 14, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Don't cow down Ezra, keep being brave. Keep writing about how people will die, and how people have died, all because politicians can't pass this bill. This bill will save lives, not kill people like not passing this bill will do. I propose a food bill after this cause a food bill will save lives as well. We need food insurance yesterday. What good is health insurance if you are dead because either a) the health bill didn't pass or you were one of those that died while waiting for it to pass or b) you didn't have any food. Don't let the naysayers bully you Ezra, those bullies. Didn't they watch that 20/20 episode on bullies? Hopefully you come out okay, but keep speaking truth to power, there is a serious lack in this country of newsfolk promoting this bill. You are our last savior. Either you get it across, or people die.

Posted by: permagrin | December 14, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Looks like the tide has turned in the comments. I'm with them. If your posts are making people squirm, then I'd say you're doing your job (as long as said posts are also accurate, obviously). What a petty, petty man Joe Lieberman is to hold improved health care reform for millions hostage to personal score settling.

Posted by: Chris_O | December 14, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

As you've pointed out, anyone objecting to your characterization of Lieberman's actions needs to come up with some other explanation for them. Good luck to them on that!

There's no point trying to make a deal with this man because, as you and many here have said, he's not negotiating in good faith.

Posted by: ckenney1 | December 14, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

"Health-care reform, with or without the public option and the Medicare buy-in, will extend coverage to more than 30 million people. It will improve the coverage of tens of millions more. "

You lying scumbag...the current reform doesn't do a thing about costs which means people like me who couldn't afford care, still can't (because rates went up 30% this year)and are now penalized for that.

Better nothing at all than this abortion of a bill...dems will never get another nickel or another vote from this life long dem

Posted by: hippie1367 | December 14, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, Ezra.

I thought you were all too polite with Keith Olbermann the other day about the inclusion or the absence combined with an individual mandate not being a deal-breaker. I wish you had said something like this:

"I'm glad you have the luxury to fight over who does the paperwork. I wish more people had your luxury. I wish the waitress who has a $10,000 deductible policy because that's all she can afford and who just received a phone call at work that her 16-year old diabetic son is in the hospital after having a blackout in class -- I wish she had your luxury to fight over who does the paperwork."

Yes, it's about time people come to terms with the human consequences of their views -- both public option diehards and public option opponents.

Posted by: BradGabel2002 | December 14, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

And I just read brucds's comment above more closely, and I'd like to second, third, and fourth. Ezra Klein: pretty damn near the only thing worth reading in the Washington Post.

Posted by: Chris_O | December 14, 2009 2:34 PM | Report abuse

You consistently elucidate the issues concisely, speak to the heart of the matter, and do so in a language I (and many other average citizens) can understand (no small feat).

I say, smear, schmear! No defense necessary. Just keep doing what you're doing. Obviously, it's working and we like it.

Posted by: onewing1 | December 14, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

There is a deep, deep reluctance on the part of the punditariat to think of policies in moral terms about people's lives, because for the pundits themselves, the issues are all horse-race abstractions. Outside of a few pundits with adult children who have middle class jobs and pre-existing health conditions, the specifics of health care reform are an academic exercise to them. Actually appealing to the human dimension is considered a "cheap shot." That and DC'ers don't like to think of the politicians and staffers they dine with as "bad people."

This is, in part, what happens when pundits become divorced from the social, human dimension of their work. Writers at the Cato Institute are not involved in starting companies or any kind of real free enterprise. Ostensibly liberal pundits are not involved in dealing with health care and education or improving infrastructure in impoverished areas... so for them, discussion of these bills is focused on the individual politicians and "who's up/who's down."

Declaring that you find Lieberman's personal journey and the kremlinology of the senate to be much less interesting and worthy of discussion than the fact that this kind of narcissistic preening is going on when human lives are involved is considered the commission of a sin against your own Village.

Posted by: constans | December 14, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Pique is really the best explanation you can come up with for Lieberman's policy changes?

How about the coalition that elected him was 70% of R's, 50% of I's, and 30% of D's. And that is about the same coalition that currently approves of his job so far. And it's who is going to get him reelected.

It seems to me his behavior is right in line with what would be expected from someone elected by Republicans who caucuses with the Democrats.

Posted by: MikeintheMountainWest | December 14, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I have been reading your blog for quite some time. Today has been your best day by far. Give em heck.

Posted by: donovong | December 14, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I wanted to quickly express my support of Ezra. If the facts on the ground mean nothing to how Senators vote on policy, then publicly shaming them for being so irresponsible may just be the only option left.

This is crunch time, health care reform just lost its 60th vote. People need to understand what that actually means.

Posted by: Will_W | December 14, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

mikeinthemountainwest, in short, your analysis suggests that...liberman is without principles.

Posted by: howard16 | December 14, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

I am a big believer that if you are going to smear someone, it should be venomous and when it comes to Lieberman, multiple venomous smearing is authorized. What it their to lose. The dude thinks he's George Bush or something. I think he is worse than George Bush, who actually got elected once to run the country.

Posted by: arnold104 | December 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I think you were much too kind to Lieberman. As you said, the point of the health care bill is to save lives. The point of Lieberman's very existence is SPITE and REVENGE. A deep gnawing grudge that overrides his responsibilities as a Senator.

He is by far the most despicable thing in the Senate today. I can accept the person who argues from conviction, I can't the man who argues against who he himself was a few months ago. Lieberman makes me physically sick. He is a shame and disgrace to the Jewish faith he claims, and a traitor to the many good citizens of Connecticut who voted for him.

Posted by: mark_cohen | December 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

What a fantastic, well-reasoned response to your colleague's idiotic screed. It's certainly more thought and effort than it deserved.

It's just second nature for conservatives to scream at the top of their lungs "How Dare you!", anytime they are confronted with their own hypocritical behavior. Considering Lane entirely agrees with you on substance, he's just OUTRAGED! that you would have the temerity to imply Holy Joe might be willing to destroy good policy purely out of petulance. (Which as you demonstrate here is entirely true). It's refreshing to see an uncompromisingly liberal viewpoint on this paper. Considering you may be all that's left, by all means please continue.

Posted by: jbanks979 | December 14, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Bravo to Charles Lane for pointing out how despicable you are with your narrow-minded ideological extremism.

Posted by: FreeMas | December 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

If it weren't for you, I wouldn't even read the WaPo. Looking forward to the day you join the NYT.

Posted by: charleslemos | December 14, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Ditto on all of the above. Great job making Lane look like a fool.

Posted by: HankGreene | December 14, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"And we columnists should not grow so accustomed to the forced courtesies of Washington that we forget how to say so."

Amen to that. I grew up reading the Post and have been a fan for years. But this Charles Lane column is a perfect example of the Post's decline in quality.

Ezra, keep up the good work. You'll be around a lot longer than Lane (or, as seems increasingly likely, the Post).

Posted by: pdxer | December 14, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Ezra - as like many other commentators have said earlier - ignore them! Don't get down, don't fear and continue your great work.

Do take down Chuck Lane's other column too.

I am the one who continue to focus on 'cost' part and as a tax payer I will continue to do that. But just to follow 'moralistic line' of this President; we have to talk about the human dimension of this policy.

No matter how many policy turns you would have taken Ezra, you are one of the few ones who have been raising this human dimension from the start. In short, you have credibility here. We may not agree here fully, but your criticism of Liberman is spot on as well as the overall culture of that 'poisoned well' called Congress.

Don't stop Ezra, fight for us.

Posted by: umesh409 | December 14, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Charles Lane? pfffft. another WaPo toilet wall scribler and reader.

I'd hate to see your job disappear or you get fired for speaking truth to power, but really, the WaPo isn't even good enough to be considered for wiping anybody's A**.

We have many 'institutions' that have lost their way and have NO socially redeeming value. WaPo is near the top the that list.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | December 14, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Well, let's remember that Chuck is the "hero" of the Stephen Glass saga. We'd best not question that he knows what he's talking about, and that Ezra is the piker here...

Bluto: "My advice to you is to start drinking heavily."
Otter: "Better listen to him, Flounder, he's in pre-med."


Keep up the good work, Ezra. As much as we like to punt you around, at least you're not tossing full Village Spin at us.


Posted by: toshiaki | December 14, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

woot! and amen. Ezra isn't exactly the only good thing, I still like Gene Weingarten, but the rest of Kaplan Daily has lost nearly every shred of claim to responsible journalism or editorial writing it ever had.

Posted by: Jenn2 | December 14, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein is an absolute moron. There are many things we can do to save lives that we don't. For instance, we could implement and strictly enforce a 30 mph speed limit on highways. We could have crossing guards at every single intersection in the country. We could make it a felony to eat meat. Given two hours I could think of hundreds of things we could do to save lives. But do we do them? No, because those savings would come at great cost.

This guy calls himself an economic and policy analyst. What a joke!

Posted by: bjb57 | December 14, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Dear Mr. Klein:

You bases for alarm is a house of cards. The statistics you cite of "hundreds of thousands" dying for lack of insurance is a matter of confirmational bias.

The original study that the IOM study and UI study restate is deeply flawed.

Please refute or issue a correction.



Posted by: paul682 | December 14, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Ezra 1, Chuck 0.

Posted by: SilverSpring8 | December 14, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Someone's about to be Froomkin'd

Posted by: dailykos1 | December 14, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

(Adopting Marv Albert voice) Oh! A specTACular post by Ezra Klein!

Posted by: thedavidmo | December 14, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Long time lurker, blah blah blah.

Great work, Ezra. Keep it up. Like so many readers on these threads, the only thing the brings me anywhere NEAR the Post is the fact that you now work here. And I'm THRILLED that you've pushed Lane's conniption button. Judging from the comments on HIS post, all he's managed to do was get you more readers.

Don't stop calling Lieberman out. He's showing himself to be petty, self-centered, and unforgivably myopic. He's like the Dennis Miller of the Senate almost. Your truth-telling against him is more valuable than what *I* occasionally fantasize about doing to him (hint... it doesn't really pay because I understand he already has really good health insurance). Disclaimer: I'm I good ethical person, and would never beat up a senior citizen (much less a public official) because I disagreed with his views. But I do have far more limited options for hurting the people who upset me than Lieberman clearly has.

Posted by: EricNJB | December 14, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully, there's a "termination for cause" clause in your employment contract Ezra.

The fact that you've essentially followed the facts and the evidence to reach a valid conclusion may not be a valid defense in the eyes of some of your bosses.

Your readers though respect the intelligent, thoughtful analysis. Where the facts lead may not be pleasant, but the role of the press is to lay them bare as they are.

The unvarnished truth is not especially flattering for Joe. That reality is inescapably true for anyone with eyes that can see.

Posted by: JPRS | December 14, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse


You raise an interesting point. The problem in applying the analogy to our health care system is that the analogy doesn't hold.

The cost-benefit of our current system is that people pay a lot for a little; whereas most other developed, industrialized nations the population gets a much, much better ROI. (e.g. twice as much spent on health care in this country for only covering part of our population; with substantially worse health outcomes for those under 65).

A more accurate analogy isn't speed limits -- it's seat belts. Your argument might be that seat belts impose an onerous burden on the economy. The reality is that an additional $100 or so of hardware installed on the front-end, ends up saving the economy probably another $500 on the back end.

Proponents of our current health care system are proponents of the most wasteful and inefficient health care system in the industrialized world. Their position is hard to justify on a fiscally sound or moral basis.

Posted by: JPRS | December 14, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Yes, yes, and yes! But better phrasing here, please: "Studies show that our risk of death is substantially lower than those who are uninsured".

Posted by: slag | December 14, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

"There is a deep, deep reluctance on the part of the punditariat to think of policies in moral terms about people's lives..."

Speak for yourself.

Political pundits are ideological by definition. At the root of those ideologies are core principles. These ARE the "moral terms" in which they think about policy.

These moral terms are so elemental to the whole thing, in fact, that they're taken as a given. Jack The Political Pundit doesn't need to recast the debate in fundamentals every time he writes a 12-inch column about the latest congressional development. It's already a GIVEN that these are at the heart of his position.

"Writers at the Cato Institute" operate from a system of principles that values individual liberty as a moral truth. Liberal writers operate from a system of principles that values equality and fairness as a moral truth.

It's unbecoming to sit there on some pedestal pretending that everyone else merely has some ephemeral surface interest in issues, while you're blessed with some rare gift of moral clarity. In fact, it's not just unbecoming, it's naive.

Posted by: ChristopherMc | December 14, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Ezra risks running afoul of the villagers.

Keep it up. I share your disgust with the politics. But don't be surprised if you get a big fat pink slip. You're no Maureen Dowd. And they will toss you overboard.

Posted by: luko | December 14, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

ChristopherMc, the fact that Ezra's moral appeal to the issue rather than blandly discussing the horse-race aspects has been derided as beyond the pale and "venomous" by other members of the pundariat indicates that you are actually wrong about this. Discussing the real-world consequences of legislative behavior and pointing out that this does have moral consequences and subjects such legislators to moral judgment is a language that Lane and many others seem ill-equipped to handle.

Posted by: constans | December 14, 2009 5:11 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, you'll eventually walk the way of Dan Froomkin, but that shouldn't make you afraid. The Post is going to die anyway. The people Fred Hiatt is courting are the ones who don't read newspapers anyway. I mean, just look at the Washington Times - great success there... I've followed your column for months now and noone informs me about health-care reform as well as you do.

Posted by: GCReptile | December 14, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

God Bless You, Ezra.

I will bring my eyes, interest, page hits, and comments wherever you go, because you are exactly the opposite of the fat, bloated grub that is Charles Lane.

Posted by: Wellstone | December 14, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse


I certainly am not an advocate for the current healthcare system. It is clearly sub-optimal. However, I do think that the various proposals being debated in Congress are not worthy of the name reform.

While I understand why people want to make this a moral issue, in the end it is an economic issue. Our current healthcare system is a mess precisely because it has been so divorced from fundamental economic incentives. The "reforms" being debated in Congress would only further take us in the wrong direction.

If I were king, I would make it mandatory that every person have catastrophic insurance offered by private companies. There would be no tax preference for any type of healthcare expenditures. There would be no "first-dollar" insurance.

I am convinced that this way of funding healthcare purchases would work. Refundable tax credits could be provided for people who cannot afford insurance.

I agree that the current system does not serve some subset of our population well. However, I reject the notion that ensuring that everyone has access to mediocre health care services would be an improvement over the current system.

Posted by: bjb57 | December 14, 2009 5:19 PM | Report abuse

It's always about moral platitudes with the looters. Whether it's about "saving" the earth, healthcare, or whatever other socialist nonsense that's made up in the next 10 years to separate my liberty from me.

"It's for the greater good. Surrender your liberty and private property."

How about this instead:
Get a GD job and STFU! Leave me and my healthcare alone!

Posted by: murrayjm | December 14, 2009 5:40 PM | Report abuse


Your statement "Refundable tax credits could be provided for people who cannot afford insurance" does not make sense to me. If someone cannot afford the catastrophic health insurance you would mandate in your kingdom, they probably won't be paying enough in taxes for a rebate to cover the insurance premiums. Please explain your system. Alternatively, feel free to tell me that I'm a humorless dolt and that what you wrote was Swiftian satire.

Posted by: JeffBoatright | December 14, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I just want to point out two things:
(1) Unlike any other opinion writer under the Washington Post's employ, Ezra receives praise from his readership - as the comments above indicate - not just because his views align with readers, but because of his insight.

(2) Ezra attracts intelligent, articulate readers. Compare -if you dare - the comment section here to the comment section of any random Washington Post story, Op-Ed (see Lane's heinous Op-Ed today, for example), or blog posting. The incoherent rants, raves and inane blather drown out the few intelligent comments in those forums.

Posted by: atlasfugged | December 14, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Yes, I noted that about Mr. Lane's attack on you as well -- he doesn't seem to dispute Sen. Lieberman's or his motivations for them, he just seems to think you're disgusting for pointing it out.

Keep up the excellent work, Mr. Klein. The WaPo opinion page has mostly gone further and further in a disinformative direction. You're one of the very few bright spots they have, and your insights are most valuable. Thank you for your tireless work on behalf of those readers who wish to be _informed_.

Posted by: sembtex | December 14, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

This was a tough, insightful post. Time and time again Ezra shows himself to be thoughtful and incisive. I hope that hte Washington Post values this as much as the Washington Post's readership seems to.

Posted by: ajf38 | December 14, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Senator Lieberman is a pius fraud and a man who is out to betray everyone and get rich in the process. Liberman knows two things:

Lieberman knows that the "Good of the country" can be betrayed over and over again for his own personal gain. A consummate hypocrite fraud, Lieberman's hang dog self-satisfied face is a stereotype of the betrayer and self-hater who will punish the world by being free of values and seeming to be a saint.

Lieberman knows that his friends in the press see so much of themselves in Lieberman: liars, frauds, betrayers of the common good.

Lieberman is repulsive. And wealthy, very very wealthy, and you can bet that he will make more money out of seeing that people do NOT get health care even as his oily assurance that he feels for others poisons our discourse.

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | December 14, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Good going, Ezra. Speak the truth and don't let them grind you down. I bet Charles Lane doesn't even respond to this post (the coward). How could he? You basically took him to school. Congrats!

Posted by: lgraham1 | December 14, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is a super pious fraud who betrays his fellow humanity at great personal reward to himself. This defense of Liar Joe Lie-berman shows how the Villagers reward evil. “Must defend the traitor!” by Charles Lane, a so-called “journalist” who is nothing more than a think tank paid liar.

But notice how quick Lane and the others are to protect Lie=berman even as Lie=berman betrays the poorest and most defenseless among us. If people who are not covered want Joe Lie=berman’s vote, then they can pay him and his wife just like the Insurance industry does.

Don’t worry: Joe’s betraying vote goes to the highest bidder with total sanctimony that makes Lane weep the way the rest of us weep seeing Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. Lane and Lie man have a “Dream” to betray the poor and helpless and make themselves wealthy doing so.

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | December 14, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Lieberman is a phony, a monster, and of course a dishonest cuss, and Lane is just another apologist, but: You and I both know, Ezra, that single-payer would save millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, and this bill won't.

I guess you're not allowed to say that anymore.

Posted by: Avedon | December 14, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Bravo, Ezra! The OP reminds me of something Molly Ivins would've written (minus a few colloquialisms). We need more truthful voices like yours. Keep it up!

Posted by: bluesqueezebox | December 14, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

was with you til the moral equivalence part.

Posted by: daphne5 | December 14, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Ezra Klein is so out of place at the Washington Post.

This is now a neocon paper full of unhinged foaming at the mouth types like Charles Krauthammer and Michael Gerson. What is Ezra Klein doing here? He is just too honest and intelligent to work at the Washington Post.

Posted by: mbateman52 | December 14, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Well, just another long-time lurker here to add to the chorus. You do great work here, and I hope you continue to do it.

When I started getting curious about the health care reform issue, I looked everywhere for some good reporting, discussion and analysis of it from a practical policy perspective, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. I found loads and loads of the horserace BS, who's up, who's down, blah blah, whatever. I mean, not that that stuff has no importance whatsoever, but it's not the most important thing.

What's important, and what I wanted to know, was *what the reformers were actually proposing to do!* How did they expect it to help? What kind of results could be expected? And while we're at it, what were the objections to it--not the Sarah Palin kind of objections, but the real drawbacks, just because there always are some.

Your blog is just about the only place I was able to find that, and it's made me a fan for life. I followed you here from ... uh, I can't remember where you were blogging before, but from there. And if you leave the Post, I'll follow you again, and after I do I probably won't remember that it was the Post you were at before.

I mean, this is all impersonal and everything, don't get me wrong. I'm not yearning to have your babies or anything, but I enjoy the blog a lot and thought it was time to say so.

Posted by: LMinOH | December 14, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Keep up the awesome work, Ezra.

Posted by: En_Buenora | December 14, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

"The first is that the defeat of health-care reform will cost hundreds of thousands of lives. That's not a particularly controversial statement."

What baloney.

If this monstrosity is such a lifesaver then why, pray tell, are the "benefits" delayed for several years?

Posted by: Robert20 | December 14, 2009 9:39 PM | Report abuse

At the risk of jeopardizing your job Mr. Klein, you are the best part of the WaPo. Please keep it up.

Posted by: mus81 | December 14, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

As Klein observes, having or not having health care insurance is not a petty matter. He is absolutely correct in his assertion the longer some people go without health care insurance, the more human beings will needlessly die, not just in poor areas of India, Africa and elsewhere, but here, in the United States.

Improving the health of human beings should have been the highest priority in any true health care reform bill. However, Obama, following in the arrogance of Bush II, insisted upon a limit upon the cost of the bill and became more obsessed with costs than health care.

In either the House of Senate bill, if enacted, millions of people legally in this country will not have health care insurance ten years hence. So tens of thousands of human beings will continue to needlessly die each decade henceforth.

This is immoral and not change anyone can believe in.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | December 14, 2009 10:08 PM | Report abuse

"Gentlemen, you can't fight in here! This is the War Room."

Seems somehow relevant.

Discussing the actual effects of Washington policies is considered unseemly to the Villagers.

Posted by: rick_desper | December 15, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

this is the most comments i've seen on any of your posts that i can remember! wow! anyway, great post as always. like so many others have commented, you are the only person at wapo that i give traffic to! :)

Posted by: schaffermommy | December 15, 2009 1:26 AM | Report abuse

The Democrats have nothing to lose by stripping Lie=Lieberman, old betraying pious fraud Joe, of his committee chairmanship and throwing him out of the Caucus.

The Democrats have nothing to lose by passing a few Major Bills with a simple majority.

When Democrats come to power they face a rigged game and when they are out of power they do not stop the big important things anyway. Democrats did not stop Bush from making the Supreme Court an arm of the GOP's most business-first biases, the democrats did not stop Bush's Wars, they did not stop Bush' No Billionaire Left Behind Tax Give-Away.

Let the Democrats accomplish a few big things, like Health Care Extension to everyone and Banking Reform and an actual Jobs Bill. If they do those things, they will hold in 2010 and win huge in 2012 when the GOP strategy of Just Say No to the Middle Class and Yes, please kind Sirs! to the Rich will catch up with them.

And for the health of the Nation exile the weasel, Lying Joe Sniffling, shuffling, "ah precious" snakoid quasi-person Joe "I betray, therefore I am" Liar Lie-berman, whom I guarantee you America would hate Lie-berman if they got to know how often this creepy oily pretend Rabbi betrays others, his country, his party, anyone and anything for the greater glory of Joe.

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | December 15, 2009 5:34 AM | Report abuse

For the health of this country, Lie-berman must go.

It tells us how corrupt and inbred and parochial the Media is that the Media has loved this pious liar, this betrayer, when any actual human wants to bathe whenever Lie-berman spills his oily essence on innocent by-standers in Lie-berman's rush to betray his country and everyone he can for his own personal gain.

No decent society allows their betrayers to constantly laugh at any idea of humanity and pose the way this pathetic excuse for a man does.

Posted by: wapoisrightwingrag | December 15, 2009 5:39 AM | Report abuse


You have been shrill, emotional and intolerant of differing views. Of course your coworkers have no respect for you? They are journalists.

Posted by: ajstrata | December 15, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

To paraphrase Molly Ivins, if Chuck Lane got any dumber, we'd have to water him twice a week.

Posted by: lexalexander1 | December 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and here's a [/snark] tag for ajstrata's comment above.

Posted by: lexalexander1 | December 15, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

The pure hate that the radical left displays here for a good, honest, principled man like Joe Lieberman is like nothing seen on this planet since Hitler went after the Jews.

The intolerant deranged hatemongers on the left will not quit until there is another Krystallnacht personally directed against Joe Lieberman and his family.

It is obvious from the leftist hatemonger coments here that Rush Limbaugh is once again right: the left wants to criminalize dissent. If you oppose Obamacare (or any Obama proposal), the left doesn't just disagree with you, they want to throw you in prison based on phony murder charges! The radical left isn't content with fascist total control over the entire US economy, they want to control all speech and thought as well! Disagree with Obama and go to jail! Are the merits of Obamacare so weak that you can only get it passed by arresting all opposition? Will you arrest 61% of all Americans?

So will Permagrin arrest Obama/Reid/Pelosi for sentencing millions of seniors to death with their 500 billion in Medicare cuts? Will Obama/Reid/Pelosi face charges for murdering millions of women in their 40s by denying them mammograms? Welcome to Obamacare!

Posted by: wally77 | December 15, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, don't let the scum get you down. You're doing a fine job showing people what a POS Joe Lieberman is.

Whether at this newspaper or at another media outlet, you have a bright future.

Hope you have a great holiday season.

Posted by: Paul_in_KY | December 15, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Wow, wally77 - you're good! And you could do it with a straight face, too. I'd hate to play poker against you.
As for Lieberman, some say that he's been driven solely by pique and self-interest for the last couple decades. And some also say that he commits heinous acts on fluffy kittens at the full moon to slake his bizarre lusts. Should we speculate on that? It would be irresponsible not to!
Amyway, how are you still employed here, Ezra? Even incriminating evidence seems too little to keep the Wrath of Hiatt from descending on your neck.

Posted by: jcrobin | December 15, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

YEAH! You go, Ezra. Tell the truth.

Posted by: joyousMinn | December 15, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

[[the left doesn't just disagree with you, they want to throw you in prison based on phony murder charges!]]

Why would the left want to throw you in prison on phony murder charges, which you might eventually get off from, when winning a conviction on perfectly legitimate manslaughter charges would be a slam dunk?

Posted by: lexalexander1 | December 16, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Lieberman is showcasing what a slippery weasel he truly is.
Shame on the people of Connecticut who voted for him.

Posted by: jclukas | December 16, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Damn fine post. My only quibble is that I feel like "lives saved" is a poor measure, since it counts someone who would have died the following year of natural causes (heart attack, stroke, etc. Avoidable, but you can't live forever.) If someone that was 30 gets saved by having insurance, and lives 50 more years, that's awesome. I'd like to see something like life-expectancy gain per uninsured person, or some figure like that. Seems somewhat difficult to calculate though.

Posted by: lrmahmood | December 19, 2009 12:57 PM | Report abuse

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