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. 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 |
  2. truthsayer

    John King as usual carrying water for Republicans.

    August 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. katiec

    And the uninsured, those with pre existing ailments and people who are getting cancelled and denied daily should wait before they
    get sick or have any life threatening illnesses, right Leiberman??
    Is this man up for election soon. Sure hope so as he has no
    chance of getting re-elected.

    August 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. kevincollins

    Reform should come "in steps"? Well, it's pretty easy for Lieberman to say being that as a senator he has that gold-plated health insurance. What a hypocrite.

    August 23, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  5. Myron

    No more waiting. We've been waiting since Teddy Roosevelt's time.

    "Every other nation with an advanced economy long ago secured universal health care for its citizens — an achievement that the United States alone finds beyond the capacities of mortal man."

    Harold Meyerson, The Washington Post

    August 23, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  6. The Real Issue

    The Real Issue is this Senator's record. Lieberman supported the Iraq War and Senator McCain. He was also reviewed as a Vice-Presidential candidate for McCain. Americans, those are the Issues regarding Senator Lieberman. He shifts back and forth. Sounds as if he is against Health Care Plan now....wait until later. Another year will not fix the economy when the present Health Care Practices are stunting the economy.

    The Real Issue my fellow Americans is this Senator is wrong again. The time for Health Care is now for all Americans for financial and health reasons!!

    August 23, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  7. trexuphigh

    I wonder how many people have to die and go bankrupt before Liberman thinks it's time.

    Americans have to understand that their healthcare is not the envy of the world. You are 37th best. Almost every other industrialized nation has a better system. Most of those better systems are not some socialist bureaucracies but a mix of free market with strong gov't input. People live longer, get better care, than in the current US model. Capitalism in those countries has not been destroyed and almost no one in either Canada, Britain, France, or Germany would trade health care systems with the US.

    Enough of the fear mongering and allow this president to do what he said he would and what you elected him to do.

    August 23, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  8. Concerned

    Tax payers should demand all congressional leaders give up their current insurance coverage. They should pay for their own, out of pocket. Why are these people given the best care when they have no interest in the working stif?

    Until the field is level and all politicians gets the same coverage as all tax payers; nothing will be done to put in place an effective policy.

    August 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  9. DaveM

    Delay, delay, delay – last cry of the Republicans and Lieberman, whatever party he claims to be in. "Delay" translates into more of a chance to kill the bill. But it's not about the deficit, or choice, or freedom, or whatever ridiculous buzzword Republicans feed to their week-minded constituents. It's about zero competition and obscene amounts of money which is exactly what the Republicans want for their patrons in the insurance industry.

    August 23, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  10. Common sense

    lieberman is wrong. Usually is. Covering the uninsured is essential to getting a handle on health care costs. It is also a moral imperative. The President and the Demorctas in congress need to get together, fine tune the bill they have going, and pass it. If the republicon party want to go on record for the 2010 elections as being against Americans being able to go to the doctor, being against lower costs and better health care, against morality, against saving hundrends of thousands of Americans a year from going bankrupt because tyey ar their child gets sick, then GREAT... try to spin that - "vote for me. I'm in favor of you being overburdened with doctor bills, drug costs, and I want you to lose you house if you get sick. And by the way, I don't care if your kids die because you can't afford a doctor visit." THAT ios what the republicons stand for, and the Democrats need to start pointing out that obvious fact. Democrats are right on this issue, and republicons are dead wrong. You would never know it from what you see on tv and in the paper. No ambiguity, no grey area. Democrats right, republicons wrong.

    August 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  11. John

    Joe offers a false choice. Health care does not mean higher deficits. This is simply a matter of priorities. As an alternative, Joe, cut $100 Billion from today's budget, and have health care now! What Federal budget couldn't use a hair cut? What are your higher spending priorities? More jet engines the Pentagon doesn't want?

    August 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. DaveM

    It's a case of – reform it now, and yes it will be expensive; or ignore it now until it inevitably becomes a crisis, at which time the cost will be astronomical and fixing may not even be possible.

    August 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. No Hillary = No Obama

    How many times have we already heard how Obama "is being too ambitious" – too many things at once – this is a product of his grandoise sense of self and the Napolen Complex that afflicts his chief of staff, Emanuel – this is what I can't stand about men in power – they immediately think of themselves as masters of the universe – Bush and Cheney did it and now we have Obama & Emanuel doing it. It's not what is best for the American people – it's what's best for their egos. Congress better start reining in this pair of narcissists.

    August 23, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  14. J.C.

    To bring down the health care costs, we have to cover the uninsured so they don't have to go to ER for care at a much higher cost at our expense anyway. By law, ER has to take everyone seeking for care.

    August 23, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  15. Hold on

    Well at least Lieberman has more sense than the ones leading the house and the senate.

    August 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. Common sense

    Wasn't it Brandiese, the first Jewish SC justoce(?) I think who said, justice too long delayed is justice denied? I know MLK used it in the Dream speech. Sound like it might be apropos for this scenario?

    August 23, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  17. J.C.

    On the other hand, what happens to the hospital if ER no longer has to take care of the uninsured as they can get care from their family doctor under the Public Plan? Will the hospital lose income from state or fed subsidies for the insured?

    August 23, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  18. Joe the Troll

    Oh, just become a Republican already.

    August 23, 2009 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  19. Independent Joe

    "the republicans…they just don't like sharing….its against their rotten principles" – Conservatives actually donate more by % of income to charities than Liberals (realizing that not all Republicans are conservative and not all Democrats are liberal – enough fall into those categories to make the statistic relevant to the comment).

    August 23, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  20. Barbara

    Easy to say Joe when you have great health coverage. Too many Americans don't. I praise the President for keeping a campaign promise of health insurance for all-despite the unending criticism and horrible attacks he is being subjected to. He should be supported-by both parties. He is trying to give to so many what should be a Right-Not a Privilege of those more fortunate. After all-that's what this country was founded on..wasn't it?. I support you President Obama! You are doing a Great Job!

    August 23, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. annie for Palin

    Take the illegals out of the equation – take out the uninsured who would rather have the money than the insurance – add TORT reform and we would have a very good health insurance system.

    August 23, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  22. w moore

    the republicans and ALL the personnel on FOX channel ar up in the air about democrats trying to get health care for the people that need it.I was just wondering ,the republicans were in the whit house for eight years and did not even truy to do anything about health care,and they could care less if every day people had insurance.George bush and all his cronnies rush limbaugh,sean hannity,bill o'reily glenn beck and the 2 or 3 crazy women they haveon their programs and dick morris should be deported to Mexico

    August 23, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  23. windrider

    In other words, do nothing for another decade or three. Covering the uninsured is the ENTIRE PURPOSE of health care insurance reform. Give up the primary objective, and anything else is useless posturing...something Lieberman and his ilk are very very good at.

    August 23, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  24. Joyhn Hall

    Liberals. Have you ever seen one. Usually fat, lazy, a big slurpie in their hand, complaining and thinking their demise is everybodys else fault and wanting someone else to fix it. They as a rule are very angry and unhappy. You would be too. They want the Government to take care of them because they can't take care of themselves. Now they want Free healthcare instead of just taking care of their health. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY is something they cannot understand. Every 20 years, America experiments with Liberalism with a new generation, it lasts a few years and America rejects it. Jimmy Carter is now the second worst President ever. That has to make him feel pretty good.

    August 23, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  25. Kat

    If the public option eliminates the ability for a private insurance company to survive, won't that eliminate the coverage that congress has???? I wonder if they have ever thought of that???

    August 23, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
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