Lieberman: No cloture on Reid package
posted at 8:48 am on December 14, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
This should surprise no one, but Democrats are howling about a double-cross after Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told CBS yesterday that he would not vote for cloture on Harry Reids’ compromise bill. Lieberman’s colleagues thought they had an agreement with him to allow Reid’s bill to proceed to a vote. His apparent reversal — which is no reversal at all from his repeated public pronouncements — leaves them short of a cloture vote on ObamaCare:
In a surprise setback for Democratic leaders, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, said on Sunday that he would vote against the health care legislation in its current form.
The bill’s supporters had said earlier that they thought they had secured Mr. Lieberman’s agreement to go along with a compromise they worked out to overcome an impasse within the Democratic Party.
But on Sunday, Mr. Lieberman told the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, to scrap the idea of expanding Medicare and abandon any new government insurance plan or lose his vote.
That set off howls of betrayal:
Senate Democratic leaders, including Mr. Reid and Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, said they had been mindful of Mr. Lieberman’s concerns in the last 10 days and were surprised when he assailed major provisions of the bill on television Sunday. He reiterated his objections in a private meeting with Mr. Reid.
A Senate Democratic aide, perplexed by Mr. Lieberman’s stance, said, “It was a total flip-flop, and leaves us in a predicament as to what to do.”
Why did this surprise anyone? Last Wednesday, Lieberman warned that he couldn’t support a Medicare expansion. A week ago, he appeared with Susan Collins for both of them to publicly oppose a government-run insurance option, reiterating the same position that he had publicly declared two days before Thanksgiving.
How can this be a “total flip-flop”? It sounds as if Lieberman’s colleagues have wax stuck in their ears.
And Lieberman’s not the only Democrat backing away from Reid’s compromise. Ben Nelson (D-NE) said it sounded like a precursor to single-payer health care, and an expensive one to boot:
Mr. Nelson said he wanted to know the cost of the Medicare buy-in. “I am concerned that it’s the forerunner of single payer, the ultimate single-payer plan, maybe even more directly than the public option,” he said.
Speaking of Nelson, the problem of abortion payments has still not been resolved. The New York Times reports that Reid is still trying to find language that will win Nelson’s support while keeping progressives in line, and so far is not having any success.
It sounds as if this entire bill has become an abortion. Reid gave up the public option and still got no closer to cloture. If the CBO comes back with the obvious conclusion — that expanding Medicare will make it more costly, explode the deficit, and make those $500 billion in cuts disappear — Reid may never get back to any government expansion.