August 23rd, 2009
12:51 PM ET
9 years ago

Lieberman: Obama should delay trying to cover the uninsured

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Amid reports that the projected deficit over the next ten years will hit $9 trillion, a former Democrat said Sunday that President Obama is being too ambitious in his plans for health care reform during the recession.

“I give the president tremendous credit for taking on the health care problem and it really is a problem that we’ve got to deal with – but he took it on at a very difficult time that was not of his making,” Connecticut Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman said on CNN’s State of the Union.

“Great changes in our country often have come in steps,” Lieberman also said, pointing to the incremental gains in the civil rights movement made over many years during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

The former Democrat then cataloged a list of incremental changes to the country’s health care system – focusing on reducing costs, changing health care delivery mechanisms, putting an end to denying coverage because of pre-existing illnesses, removing monetary caps on the amount of coverage provided, paying for preventive services that avoid costly chronic illnesses later on – all of which he thinks are ripe for consideration right now in tough economic times.

Lieberman called Obama’s ambitious goal of covering all or nearly all of the millions of uninsured in the country “the tough one.” “That’s where you spend most of the trillion dollars . . . that this health care plan will cost. And I’m afraid we’ve got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy is out of recession. There’s no reason we have to do it all now but I do think we have to get started.”

Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, disagreed with Lieberman’s suggestion that the current health care reform push not include an attempt at universal coverage.

“We’ve got to bring down the cost of health care,” Cardin told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King, “it’s difficult to do that by ignoring those who don’t have health insurance today.

Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar agreed with Lieberman and suggested that deferring health care reform to next year would be better given the economy.

Lugar told King that he would advise Obama that “bringing up the health care situation in the midst of a recession . . . was a mistake.”

“For the moment, let’s clear the deck,” Lugar also said Sunday, “and try it again next year or in subsequent times.”

soundoff (147 Responses)
  1. Cindy

    Sounds like Joe Lieberman's rationing Healthcare... he's saying the current uninsured are expendable.

    Sorry, Joe. That does not cut it. You don't cut away Americans who are in most need of assistance.

    August 23, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  2. Preston kath

    Mr obama i even wonderer if joe lieberman does what is best for him do what you have to do the gop only care for the rich preston kathy

    August 23, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. johnrj08

    This is why Joe Lieberman should NOT be a U.S. Senator. He is, in the most derogatory sense, a politician, not an advocate for the people. If we do not get health care reform now, in ten years health care costs in this country will top $40 trillion. That is double what the worst case scenario is for the cost of the reforms Obama is promoting. If Obama is only half right about how much more efficient the system will become and how real competition will drive down costs even further, then health care costs could be 1/8th of that figure. Joe Lieberman's entire focus in life is political survival. He needs to go back to primary school and learn some simple arithmetic.

    August 23, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Steph

    This is totally unacceptable! I think he should have to tell each uninsured person to their face why he thinks they shouldn't have the chance to buy into an affordable plan. He should tell them why he thinks their lives are less important than his.

    This is a moral issue. Letting people die or go bankrupt paying for needed treatments and medicine is just wrong!

    August 23, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. Debby

    Well I agree that was stupid for Lieberman to say , but if people can afford to by a six pack , cigarettes, fast food daily then they can afford to put that money aside monthly for health insurance. The people that want and need government run health care are the ones who should be taxed, not the ones who can provide for themselves out of pocket, and then again have to pay for someone else's. Obama should have people apply for government funded healthcare if they need it vs. this mandatory reform he wants to pass. It would save so much money in the long run and less fortunate would get covered.

    August 23, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Carole NJ

    Right on Joe!! Incremental changes in healthcare you talk about are the way to go. We should not be turning everything upside down right now and slopping on a Trillions more. Focus on the recession. Sen. Ben Cardin is wrong in his all or nothing approach.

    August 23, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. sagin.ferro

    For heaven's sake, shut-off this half breed of sheep and goat!
    Liberman trying to advise Obama? Com'on!

    August 23, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Preston kath

    Preston kathy lieberman is for the rich gop he will go to the party that will profit him

    August 23, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. Karl

    Joe gotta go. Why must we delay covering those that need it the most? It does not make sense to me. Joe gotta go!

    August 23, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Independent

    Mr. Lieberman, so we continue to ignore the root of the health care problem....THE UNINSURED

    August 23, 2009 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  11. Independent

    The President gave the republicans bait again and they bit – hard. You'd expect that repugs would have learned a lesson after he squashed them in the election. Here's the deal – Obama has tried at bi-partisanship in this whole healthcare debate although he knows he can and will pass it. With that in mind, he allowed the republicans a chance to do the right thing, but also knew all they would do is play bitter politics and spread their usual propaganda. He essentially gave them a long rope to hang themselves politically because he knows it will pass and American will benefit tremendously. Then voters will look at those who were against it and well, we know how they'll vote. Brilliant. I can't wait for Obama to activate his big guns.

    August 23, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. an usa veteran

    Republicans represent status quo, as far as LIE-BERMAN and Luger both long standing opportunists, they have great health Insurance, they make me sick just to listen to them on important issues.

    August 23, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  13. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Lieberman is useless.

    August 23, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. the real Mike in MN

    maybe if we weren't spending one billion dollars a week in Iraq we could actually get health acre reform. Where were all the "fiscal conservatives" the last 8 years when Bush was running up the deficit with an unneeded war in Iraq?

    August 23, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. Annie, Atlanta

    Of course Liebermann would be in lockstep with his BFF McCain – no news here. But don't these guys have government run health care? Maybe before we draft health care reformwe should visit campaign finance reform in a big way. That could get our politicians working for us again. This makes too much sense, like health care reform, therefore it won't be done.

    August 23, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  16. Tom

    GEE! Wish he would loose his insurance so he could see how it is! This guy is out of touch with his people. What a moron!

    August 23, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  17. Dee

    Take away Joe's health insurance and see how he changes his tune.

    August 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  18. KC

    I say take away not only idiot Lieberman's insurance, but ALL of Congress' health insurance until they do something about the health insurance company mess most of us have to deal with.

    August 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  19. GOPer

    I'm uninsured. I have high blood pressure otherwise known as a pre-existing condition. This needs to be fixed ASAP! Liberman dosent know what he is talking about.

    August 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  20. Reformed Republican

    "You want death panels? I'll give you death panels!" says Joe Lieberman in support of the rethuglicans blocking health care reform and the public option.

    Atta boy Joe (and the rest of 40 de facto "death panel" Senate rethuglicans) just delay health care reform and the public option till after the 2010 elections. After all, we have to defeat Obama at any and all costs.

    So a few million of our fellow Americans die for lack of health care, according to you death panel rethuglicans blocking health care reform – they probably were not "real" Americans to begin with if they can't afford health care, right rethuglican Senators?

    August 23, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  21. elana

    Oh, that's just great! So for ANY person who is dealing with a terminal illness, or an lllness that requires extensve medical treatment, IF UNINSURED, the alternative is DEATH! Thanks alot, Joe!! All of us that are finding ourselves without insurance will remember you - AND IT WON'T BE IN OUR WILL EITHER!! IT WILL BE IN THE VOTING BOOTH!!!

    August 23, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  22. maria

    Liberman, lets hold your insurance and all the other politicians who want the American people that they are suppose to represent and have their best interest in mind, to hold off on insurance.
    All Americans need to closely monitor how our so called representatives are voting and let them know we are monitoring them.

    August 23, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  23. Sarge in Florida

    Then why doesn't he give up his insurance until a bill can be passed and see what people do when they have NO insurance..Put your monEy where your Mouth Is Senator.

    August 23, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  24. Steve in Kentucky

    This is the loyal "Democrat" who supported John McCain then avoided any serious fallout in the Senate. Nice and cozy.

    Now he's out to undermine health insurance reform. Who cares about the uninsured, huh Joe?

    The Dems should kick this guy out of their caucus and strip his chairmanships regardless of the political cost. Sometimes there's something to stand up against. And in this case it's Joe Lie-berman.

    August 23, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  25. Lisa

    Americans are the most selfish people in the world. The seniors citizens are probably the people that are opposing health care reform. Aren't they the same ones utilizing the government health care plan system?

    August 23, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
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