Oh my: Lieberman vows to filibuster Reid's ObamaCare bill; Update: "Robust" public option short of votes in the House too

Combine this with Snowe’s declaration that she’s not voting for any opt-out public option either and you’ve got 41 votes to kill it. And maybe, given the rumblings coming from Blue Dogs like Ben Nelson and Landrieu, a few more than that.

I’ve got a crazy hunch that the media’s strange new respect for free-thinkin’ independent-minded centrists like Snowe and Susan Collins won’t be extended to Joe Liebs.

“We’re trying to do too much at once,” Lieberman said. “To put this government-created insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayers, for the premium payers and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.”…

Lieberman did say he’s “strongly inclined” to vote to proceed to the debate, but that he’ll ultimately vote to block a floor vote on the bill if it isn’t changed first…

“I can’t see a way in which I could vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated-run insurance company,” Lieberman added. “It’s just asking for trouble – in the end, the taxpayers are going to pay and probably all people will have health insurance are going to see their premiums go up because there’s going to be cost shifting as there has been for Medicare and Medicaid.”

TPM has a short useful summary of what this means procedurally. Essentially, there are two cloture votes coming: One to open floor debate on Reid’s bill and consider amendments to it and the second to close debate and proceed to a vote on the bill. Lieberman’s willing to vote yes on the first but not on the second unless Reid agrees to drop the public option. If Reid does that, progressives will turn on him and leave his reelection bid dead in the water; if he refuses to do it, he runs into that 41-vote roadblock on the second cloture vote. Where he goes from here, I have no idea — as Karl says, presumably he’ll offer a public option with a “trigger” instead to try to pull Snowe back in notwithstanding the left’s antipathy to it — although the White House saw this train wreck coming and warned him not to float a bill with an opt-out public option. Even so, while the left will beat him up for not being able to buy 60 votes via horse-trading, isn’t Reid actually helped a bit by Lieberman taking the lead among the opposition? So deeply do progressives despise Joementum that the storyline here will be his betrayal and obstructionism, not Reid’s idiocy, which is a huge help to Dingy Harry. As scapegoats go, you can’t do better than a guy who lost a primary to a nutroots-supported liberal three years ago and then endorsed John McCain.

For a laugh, watch the clip below or follow the link to TPM and note their reminder to readers that a public plan, as currently written, would be wholly funded by premiums and wouldn’t be allowed to draw off federal revenues generally. How crazy of Joe Lieberman to think that might change eventually. Exit question: Is it a bluff?

Update: The surest way to get a public option to Obama’s desk is to push the strongest possible form through the House and then use that as a starting point for negotiations with the Senate, which will inevitably water it down. They’re headed for Plan B on that, too:

Clyburn told the assembled members at the meeting that the leadership does not have the votes to pass the robust public option, according to a House progressive familiar with the meeting. That sparked aggressive pushback from liberals, who argued that leadership — and the White House — should be working harder to win over the remaining votes the bill needs.

The document shows that 47 House Dems are committed No votes, and eight are Leaning No, for a total of 56. That means of 256 House Dems, only 200 remain, and a dozen of those are listed as undecided. The bill needs 218 votes for passage.

House progressives argue that the document should light a fire under Dem leaders. One House progressive tells me he’s convinced that most of the undecideds, and a number of the No votes, can be won over with the right mix of pressure and incentives — which only the House leadership and the White House can provide.

Ace thinks the Democratic leadership knows the P.O. is doomed and that this is just an elaborate kabuki to show their base that they tried to pass it. What’s the logic in that, though? By forcing a vote on the public option, they focus attention on the Blue Dogs who are opposing it — and who happen to be the most vulnerable Democrats next year.

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