August 23rd, 2009
12:51 PM ET
5 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. fred

    If you're uninsured, you have no reason to complain. If you really want to be insured, work hard, and get coverage.

    August 23, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  2. Mike in MN

    If Obama just wanted to get the uninsured covered, he would not have much of a problem.
    His problem is that the bill in the House that he wanted passed before August is a government takeover of health care. I creates a new committee of 27 government appointed officals, 18 by the President that will have total control over your health care and private insurance. It will force many off their private plans and will control what can and can not be covered by insurance and thus what tests, procedcures and medications your doctor can prescribe. Obama wanted this passed before we could discover what was in the bill. A majority of voters will never support the House version with the public option and a trillion plus dollar price tag that adds to the deficit and a government takeover of our health care.

    August 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  3. robrubin

    Lieberman is a moron. If you bring in the 40-50 million that are uninsured then you have that many more in the pool which will drive down costs.

    Furthermore, if and hopefully when they put a public option in place it will compete with private insurance and further drive down costs.

    August 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  4. Steve in Las Vegas,NV

    It's the uninsured who need the help in getting the insurance they can AFFORD. And soon!

    August 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  5. Saint

    Please recall Lieberman. I don't think I can stand to see him grinning with King on CNN for until 2012. I am sure he is done, the people of CT are too smart to re-elect him for even dog catcher.

    August 23, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  6. Bob

    If you want universal health care, how are you going to pay for it? National security and defense are off the table, deficits ae already out of control, and the public has no stomach for new taxes.

    Come on, spell it out, with details, please.

    August 23, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  7. 4 and the door

    The fact that timing for this whole effort is completely wrong is exactly correct. What a blunder! Did Obama actually believe that because he might have had some extra "political capital" that this was a good enough reason to break out a huge health care program?!? This blunder of reason doomed the program and unfortunate for Democrats, this has spent more of this precious political capital than they had to start with.
    The American taxpayer can only take so much abuse and has stood up to say," Enough already! Do something that works, first! How about creating some of these jobs we just gave you guys $1 trillion for!"

    August 23, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  8. Post always rejected by CNN

    Could someone put a sock in his lying mouth. I hope Baldwin does move to Connecticut and snow him under with votes. go Baldwin. This piece of swamp flotsom must go.

    August 23, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  9. John

    Alec Baldwin should move to Connecticut to get this loser out of office! A total traitor. (the insured LIEberman).

    August 23, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  10. sandy

    Same old Joe. He sides with whomever he thinks can help him the most. I think it's time for all of these "old guys" that are surposed to be running our government to be voted out and lets get some young blood in Washington. These guys have been there too long and most are have big business in their pockets so they don't really work for us anymore, they work for themselves and big business.

    August 23, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  11. JAY

    If the country goes bankrupt ,so does the Democrats health care
    plan. The government still has no logical way to pay for it and
    people are still losing their jobs and their homes.

    NOW THE VETERENS ADMINSTRATION IS HANDING OUT
    BOOKLETS TO AMERICAN VETERANS ON REASONS THEY
    SHOULD END THEIR LIVES. AUTHORIZED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA
    SO HE CAN SAVE MONEY.

    August 23, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  12. Steve Lyons

    Democrats need to be honest bout what they want in "universal health care" This is about bragging rights on insuring all those people that may not be able to afford medical "insurance" at the expense of those that are healthy enough to CHOOSE to not buy insurance. It is plain and simple a wealth transfer. Forcing through mandates one group to pay for another. It IS called socialism. Forcing Doctors to become and remain general practitioners would affect far fewer people AND drive down costs. In the 1960's we had conscription (the draft) for the military, how about we have a draft for general practice? Go to medical school, get drafted for 10 years to serve as a general practitioners BEFORE you can choose to specialize. That's reform.

    August 23, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  13. Ken, Arizona

    I suppose Lieberman is joining the ranks of his republican cohorts in rationing health care. It's absurd to suggest that "maybe we shouldn't try to cover the uninsured now". No, lets wait another 50 years. That might sound fair if Lieberman and other opponents of health care reform would give up their insurance until we can cover everyone.

    August 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Dennis

    Lieberman could give up his insurance.

    August 23, 2009 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  15. Xavier

    What would Jesus do? Would he worry about insurance companies and their bottom line, or help those in need? Republicans are the first to speak of their Christian ideals, how about actually thinking the way Jesus did?

    August 23, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. bill b. from Stratford,Ct

    We should wait for health care reform, is this guy crazy. That's the same story they have been saying seen the Thurman era and that's been decades, to be exact 50 yrs and counting. When ever you hear one of these politic say some thing like that, it comes down to one thing, they're in the bed with the insurance companies, PERIOD.

    August 23, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Cynthia in MI

    When is the right time, Joe? If we wait until the country is out of recession, build up our reserves a bit. . . . Republicans will come along and start another war. Why don't you just step back to Connecticut and stay there, basking in the good feeling of having health care for the rest of YOUR life.

    August 23, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. Fan of Common Sense

    Is there something wrong with just admitting that in a capitalist nation of over 300 million people it's simply inevitable that there are going to be some uninsured people? Is there something wrong with giving people an incentive to be the best and most productive citizens they can possibly be? This incentive will not be there if the government is right there to satisfy our ever want and need.

    August 23, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. Jim, Williamsburg, VA

    Time to get a blank sheet of paper, align priorities with reality and what the people want and start over.

    August 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  20. John S

    The time is never convenient (I agree with the previous post). Take your medicine now and the recovery will take care of itself The recovery is already starting to pick up. By the time most of the legislation is in effect it will be two or three years away. To say delay, linger and wait is something we cannot afford to do as the government already pays for most of the heath care tab (under Medicaid /Medicare)

    August 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  21. Peter E

    I love how people criticize the government for alegedly rationing health care. But the current private health corporations already ration it. One sixth of Americans aren't covered at all, and a third of those insured PRACTICALLY don't get coverage either, since their claims are systematically denied. If that's not rationing, I don't know what is!

    August 23, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. TCM

    especially with my money...I have my own bills to pay, thank you. Oh, and OBama should realize that printing press he's been using...well, that money has to be backed...

    You crazy liberals need to realize one thing; all the freebies you want have to be paid for...there's no magic money fairy....and you can consider this; everytime you want something it goes directly into a tax....

    August 23, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. America

    We support the private option.

    August 23, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  24. Freeman

    President Obama wants health care for all Americans.He is without a doubt the most caring President this country has ever had yet he's being called a socialist and worst Hitler! This from racist republicans who care for no one but themselves! You people are sick! And believe me you will get yours.

    August 23, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  25. George

    Atta boy Joe. Let more people lose thier homes to people that are financing you. Good job Joe.

    August 23, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
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