October 27th, 2009
02:09 PM ET
5 years ago

Lieberman rejects public option, won't vote for cloture

Sen. Lieberman said Tuesday that he opposes any kind of public health insurance option.
Sen. Lieberman said Tuesday that he opposes any kind of public health insurance option.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman told reporters Tuesday that he will support Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on a procedural motion in order to start the health care debate - but opposes any kind of public option, including state opt-out and trigger provisions, and will ultimately not vote to approve any health care bill that includes any version of a public option.

The announcement means that even if Reid is able to get a measure introducing a public option that allows states to opt out onto the Senate floor for debate, Lieberman - who caucuses with the Democrats - won't provide a crucial vote needed to get it off the floor and up for a final vote.

"I am strongly inclined, and I have had this conversation with Sen. Reid several times, to vote for the motion to proceed to take up the bill. Why? Because I want to vote for health care reform legislation, so I'd like the debate to begin," said the Connecticut senator. "But I've also made clear to Sen. Reid that if the bill remains as it is now, I will vote against cloture, to finish the bill and pass it affirmatively."

Lieberman said the inclusion of an opt-out provision would not change his position.

"To me, the opt out doesn't change the basic facts. The last thing we want to do now is create another Washington-run health insurance company," he said. "There's enough good things that we're talking about - health care delivery reforms, insurance market reforms, extending coverage to people who don't have it now. I think we're just asking for trouble that the taxpayers don't need. I think the end result of it - I mean we are having enough time sustaining Medicare."

The Democrat-turned-independent said he could not support the creation of a public option because "it still creates a whole new government created entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line."

"I can't see a way in which I can vote for cloture on any bill that contained a creation of a government-operated-and-run insurance company, it's just asking for trouble," he said. He also rejected the idea of a "trigger" option that would allow for the launch of a new public option if the insurance industry failed to meet certain coverage benchmarks. "I feel this way about a national government-run health insurance company whether it's a trigger or not," he said.

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Filed under: Democrats • Health care • Joe Lieberman • Senate
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Just My Opinion in Texas

    Hmm ... seems that Senators are starting to realize that the "public option" is pure poison to their political careers and are choosing their careers over an option that is NO option as far as tax-paying Americans are concerned.

    Yes .. the system needs MAJOR renovations ... but a national Medicaid plan is NOT the answer and tax-paying Americans knows it!

    October 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Diane Portland OR

    Take away all leadership positions and get him out of there!!

    October 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. David in Idaho

    Surprise, surprise...
    Who didn't see this one coming?
    At this point I willing to say, use the procedural motion.... if the Republicans are this pig headed and we have so many fake democrats... Make the republicans use the fillibuster, then use the motion and attack the other side for not letting it come to a vote

    October 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  4. Barbara -

    Doesn't Lieberman look an awful lot like the guy on ALF? Just an observation. He hasnt yet come to grips with what party he supports now? (Not surprising of course, he did support McCain). 'Nuff said.

    October 27, 2009 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  5. dave

    Thanks Connecticut. Oh, how we need Ned Lamont.

    October 27, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  6. Al Moore

    I wish I could say I'm surprised at Joe the Whiner's announcement. However, as a long-time constituent, I see this as yet another attempt to straddle issues without taking any kind of ownership that would fly in the face of support from his Connecticut-based insurance company lobbyists.

    October 27, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  7. single mom

    An opt out? Is that like having your cake – passing a health care reform bill as the President/Pelosi/Reid have promised, while eating it too – not angering the majority of Americans who have stated in numerous legitimate polls that they are against the public option?

    Of course I'm in California – land of unbalanced budgets (when they get passed) and illegal immigrants. I apologize to the rest of the country for the additional debt added to the deficit.

    October 27, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. dan smith

    Yes Obama wants total control of our lives,why you might ask? Because he's an evil man. Just look at the decision to call the swine flu a national emergency,by doing so he has created an opportunity for health care providers to put people in what basically amounts to concentration camps. If you don't believe that could happen here with this power hungry President I can assure you that the Germans thought the same thing when Hitler came to power,by the time people realized what was going on it was too late. Wake up America.

    October 27, 2009 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  9. Josh P.

    I swear if this piece of crap is the one thing between the American people and the "Public Option" I think I will lose my mind! I hate Joe Lieberman with a true passion.

    October 27, 2009 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  10. Jonathan

    Can anyone name one part of the Democratic platform this guy does support??

    October 27, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  11. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    Without a public option, healthcare reform is dead. I really hate to break the news to the boys and girls in Washington, but if Americans could afford monthly premuims of $300-1500.00 per month we would not be having this issue before us. It is appartent to me that the folks in Washington have a very slim grasp on the reality on the ground in America. To cover all Americans with afforadble healthcare we have two options, a highly subsidized government option that cost the individual pennys on the dollar, or a single payer system. If insurance companies were capable of providing 100% afforadble healthcare this would not be an issue, they are not.

    In reality, the only way we shall ever provide 100% of all Americans with adequate healthcare, is to go to a single payer system. You don't like it, tuff, it's the truth.

    October 27, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  12. Matt

    Thank goodness there are still people who really understand how bad this unfinished bill is for our economy, health and freedoms. Real reform is needed, but the monstrosity in the senate isn't it.

    October 27, 2009 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. Ray

    Dear Democrats,

    STOP trying to please conservatives and Republicans. You will NEVER get their support on this, and you are wasting time and our money. This public option is a failure. In allowing states to opt out, YOU have failed us.

    Public option for ALL, NOW!!!

    Sincerely,
    Your Constituents

    October 27, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. richard Mock

    Now we see how forceful of a leader the Democrats have in the Senate. I see Reid's options as follows:

    (1) Have the Democratic caucus in a closed meeting vote to suspend any committee chairman of his position who votes to sustain a Republican filibuster.

    (2) If cloture vote doesn't occur on the first vote then continue discussion and have a cloture vote each day. In other words make the Republicans actually filibuster.

    (3) If Lieberman still doesn't come around then push whatever portion of the house bill can be pushed through under reconciliation. The House Ways and Means has already paved the way for this to be done. If this is important enough to Lieberman to lose his Committee assignments, then let him stand by his guns. I'm already pretty much fed up with him because of some of the things he said about Obama during the campaign.

    October 27, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  15. SH

    Go Joe! Connecticut loves you!

    October 27, 2009 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. mike

    lieberman should reject himself because nobody really cares what he says anymore

    October 27, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. Health Care Reform not Social Reform

    Good for Lieberman. The " Opt Out" plan is silly. Drop the public option or as Pelosi wants to call it " the consumer option". Yeah rename it, nobody will know the difference. Open insurance across state lines. Get real tort reform. If the left wants to keep the Republicans out of power don't force things on the public. The Republicans love that the Democratic majority is the senate and house are causing the problems. Blame the republicans all you want, it's the elected democrats killing the reform.

    The left wants to make sure that those evil Insurance companies make less than the whopping 2.2% profit.

    October 27, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  18. Enough

    NO PUBLIC OPTION! We don't want a government take over of our health insurance. Focus on reforming health care, not destroying it.

    October 27, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. David in Oregon

    Whether they be Democrat or Republican it is quite obvious that neither Party is interested in us, the American citizen. Sure, they snipe at each other (while winking) to keep up the illusion that they oppose one another. But at the end of the day the both only care about maintaining the status quo which means catering to big business and the wealthy. Sadly, they use us voters as pawns in their nefarious dance; we're sheep who blindly follow one Party or the other, not realizing they both stand for the same thing (and it's not us).

    Those of us in the middle (the majority of voters) who have watched the antics over the health care reform "debate" are beginning to awaken and we're getting very tired of seeing big business and the wealthy being represented at our expense.

    My solution: vote out the incumbent Senator or Congressman, regardless of party affiliation, in 2010. Ideally, we would have more Independent candidates involved but, if not, just send the political parties a clear message by voting incumbent out. And then do it again in 2012 if the status quo remains.

    October 27, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  20. juliet hartford ct

    I live in Connecticut and Joe Liberman need to go join the republican party....he is not a real democrat...he is a disgrace to the dems....he turn his back on his own party that he claims to belong to when the President who was then a senator...to show that the president is a total gentleman and forgive him now when they need him again he is siding with the opposition ...he need to go with the republicans because that is where his heart is...go lib.erman ..go.

    October 27, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. Kenneth

    I knew we should've kicked that backstabbing rat to the curb!

    October 27, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  22. LYNETTE IN CA

    It's time for Conn to get rid of Lieberman! He was an embarrassment when he left the Dem party, he was completely embarrassing when he threw himself at McCain / Graham and now he's siding again w/repugs.

    Is Lieberman's seat coming open in 2010? I hope so.

    CONNECTICUT –
    PLEASE VOTE FOR A REAL DEMOCRAT NEXT TIME!

    October 27, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  23. Melissa

    I'm so tired of this utter crap. Give us the public option and stop acting like whiny children. Star actually giving a crap about the people in this country.

    October 27, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Kevin

    Joe Lieberman cares about Joe Lieberman, not about fiscal responsibility. He enjoys having his colleagues beg him to support legislation while he hems and haws on the fence.

    Frankly, the Democrats don't need his vote anyway. If more than 40 U.S. senators vote to block health care reform for working Americans while THEY enjoy the best health insurance plans in the world, then it's time for the nuclear option (which the Republicans threatened to use repeatedly when they were in the majority).

    Health care reform is 50 years overdue and it's time to get the job done. As for getting voted out, well they didn't go to D.C. to stay (well, maybe Lieberman did), they went to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

    October 27, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Chris from NY

    What else is new. He's been a Republican in Democrat's clothing.

    October 27, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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