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. Alan

    It is amazing that some people think that the Dems have their best interest in mind and that heathcare will be FREE under the Obama plan. Guess what DING DONGS the Dem party is about getting re-elected and the healthcare plan is going to cost money. If you are currently not insured it is because you cannot afford it, what makes you think you will be able to afford it under the Obama plan?

    August 23, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  2. GI Joe

    He should join his best friend forever (McCain) and retire.

    TERM LIMITS will never be voted in by them, so let's vote them out.

    No incumbents in 2010.

    August 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  3. eolufemi

    Public health experts expect there to be a global pandemic at one point.

    Allowing sick people to serve as walking petri dishes is one of the reasons.

    Healthy people have immune systems that can deal with most pathogens.

    It's foolish to let thing go as they are on the assumption that just because you have insurance this isn't your problem.

    The government has an obligation to protect the American people. Not all threats can be addressed with a F-35.

    We need health reform, improves the health of all Americans through providing wellness care and at least some basic level of coverage.

    August 23, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  4. Willy Brown

    I pray the democrats go alone. This way we can send them all home in 2010 $ 2012, Obummer included.

    August 23, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  5. RACHEL RULES

    Looks like the insurance lobby has gotten to you too ,Joe,... surprise ,surprise. How much did they give you, to sell the less fortunate down the river?

    August 23, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. kathy

    If the members of congress would give up their taxpayer-funded health care system and buy insurance on the private market (most can afford the premiums), the government would save lots of money. When does that start?

    Did we tell Wall Street Bankers that they would just have to wait while town halls were held to debate giving them $700 billion? Were there town halls to debate the reasons for invading Iraq? Did anyone stand up and say we just don't have the money right now?

    August 23, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Susan in Arkansas

    Just another comment by one of the "haves" wanting to exclude the "have nots." Mr. Lieberman, how long must this country wait until we make changes before we can catch up with the rest of the civilized world? As of breast cancer survivor of 10 years, who is fortunate to have private health insurance (with a mighty high deductible), what am I supposed to do if I have reoccurence (God forbid) and my insurance company cancels my coverage? I worked in the health care field for over 30 years, and have witnessed first hand the games insurance companies play and understand the millions and millions of dollars in profit they reap. The time to do something is NOW!

    August 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  8. lucky b

    We all know this guy is insued to the hilt....And it is all FREE for life.. Nothing is to good for him...And the tax payers are picking up his tab..For the rest of his life..

    August 23, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. PaulC

    I think we should delay paying for medical coverage for all moronic Senators. He sits there with his idiotic smirk enjoying the best health care money can buy at his beck and call and proposes to deny it for the people who pay his salary.
    Lieberman has lost all credibility. You could adopt the policy of doing everything that Lieberman says not to do and you would be right 90 percent of the time.
    I don't recall him giving any advice to Bush during his 8 year reign.

    August 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  10. Jacob

    so the insured politician says the uninsured can wait?

    how caring of him!

    August 23, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. chris

    Something to think about...

    The proposed Health Care bill will let the Government into the MOST PRIVATE life decisions a person can make. End of life decisions are NONE of the governments business.

    But lets say the govt. will have a say as to who is more viable for cancer treatments, the young man with a family or the elderly?

    What is next? Will mentally handicapped receive the same consideration?

    What about HIV patients?

    Some say Obama wont do that, but what about the next administration?

    Too many things to chance with this Health Care bill, and FAR TOO MUCH Government intrusion.

    August 23, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  12. lucky b

    We all know this guy is insured to the hilt....And it is all FREE for life.. Nothing is to good for him...And the tax payers are picking up his tab..For the rest of his life..

    Lets see if CNN will post this????

    August 23, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Money for wars Joe? Money for Israel Joe? But no money to give affordable health coverage for all Americans? What has happened to this country's humanity?
    Joe you and you conservative friends HAVE NO CREDABILITY?
    When will these old politicians and their old worn out ideas stop
    keepin us in the dark ages? People stand up, don't be intimidated by the conservatives. Fight the fight for whats right.

    signed
    white married guy w/ 2 kids age 52

    August 23, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  14. Richie

    We need single payer. If the government is so bad at this, how come everyone over 65 doesn't move? Medicare for all. Tax employers the equivalent of what a basic health insurance premium currently costs them to pay for it. Let the health insurance companies go crazy offering add-on insurance. SINGLE PAYER NOW.

    August 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  15. casper

    your steps in changes, and the taking of time has scared me for life as you relate to the civil rights movement. its people like you , who have the nerve to say change takes small steps. of course when you are on the other end of the spectrum and life is all well. and YOUR kids AND GRAND KIDS ARE DOING ALRIGHT. and you got health care my tax dollars paided for. my god i pray that there be term limits for you carpet baggers. how rich did cheney/bush get your constituents lieberman i bet you that them people you represent don't wait for no one. NEVER AGAIN does that ring a bell?

    August 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  16. Wes

    It appears that he has his own idea of "Death Panels".

    August 23, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. joe mett

    This senator supported the Iraq war at $700 billion and followed McCain like a high school cheerleader in saying that we should stay in Iraq for as long as it takes. He has no qualms about spending money on a meaningless war but health insurance reform must wait. The problem is that these nearderthal senators get re-elected all the time. It is about time some of them lose their elections so that real change would come to Washington DC. and the country.

    Come 2010, some in the House and Senate need to lose their seats so that real change comes to Washington DC. It would make no difference, how many democrats lose their seats for they are the ones playing gridlock politics now claiming to be Blue Dogs, Lap Dogs etc.

    August 23, 2009 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  18. pc

    It is so easy for rich people to say what poor people can't have.

    August 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  19. katiec

    Why did Lieberman get the headline instead of Cardin??
    Oh, that's right, he is a republican!!

    August 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  20. vic nashville , Tn

    We need health care reform NOW

    CNN AC 360 had a good health care debate

    Half of the bankruptcy in this country because of health issue in that most of them have health insurance but it don’t cover every thing

    Very good point made on that debate this true

    America please wake up and support health care reform before we say too big too late

    August 23, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  21. Michele

    That would be fine if one Republican had the backbone and the WILL to actually help people in need. So far, they appear to have neither, and that means, fix it now or forever hold your breath waiting for relief. Case in point: Republicans have controlled both houses for what, 20 out of the past 22 years or something, and has one baby step toward health reform been attempted? Only by Hillary, and you know what the Republicans did with that...wrecked it. They do not care about the average American and any speech one of them gives touting their compassion is a crock.

    August 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. Jon

    Weren't there also cost restraints when Joe Lieberman helped whip up support for a trillion dollar war? All this proves is that Lieberman's priorities are different than those of his constituents.

    August 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  23. John, Brooklyn, New York

    We SO need a different senator for Connecticut. Lieberman's support for the Iraqi war, his endorsement of McCain, his active efforts to deny health care for needy uninsured people – not to mention his unwillingness to accept his own voters' rejection of him as a Democrat – should be clear enough signals that he is out of touch with the people of Connecticut.

    August 23, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  24. Keith

    Why is Joe Lieberman still around? Shouldn't he be slinking off into obscurity with his pals Bush and McCain, or is he still trying to pass himself off as a democrat? Enough of the charade, Joe. You showed your true colors in the past couple of years and we all know what you really are. Just another repub trying to bring down the president.

    August 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. Bruce in VA

    I don't get all the animus against Joe. He says it is a difficult time. It really is, as the CBO has projected massive deficits as far as we can see. Joe says that the difficult times are not of Obama's doing. And he calls for a measured approach. What is wrong with that? Who says that we need to move to a full takeover straightaway? Who says we can't go incrementally? Those are just talking points of Democrats that are looking for votes.

    I, for one, would like to see tort reform first. Then the following three things: an insurance mandate, a requirement to accept (i.e., no pre-existing conditions), and tax credits or vouchers for the (real) poor. No need for a public option.

    August 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
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