October 27th, 2009
02:09 PM ET
9 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.


Filed under: Democrats • Health care • Joe Lieberman • Senate
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Todd

    How does he feel about outright caps on all medical services across the board? That's the only way costs will be controlled absent some direct market pressure. Given the fact the health care costs have outpaced inflation by double digits for so long now, the current market forces are clearly not enough!

    October 27, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. Bryan from Topeka

    I think the time has finally come to boot Joe out of the caucus.

    October 27, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. Ken in NC

    This sucker needs to have his chairmanship yanked, kicked out of the caucus and shipped off to the Republicans. Then the Blue Dogs, who are only undercover Republicans need to be stripped as Democrats and shipped off to the Republican Party and then we will have to deal with our own party after that but at least we will have Democrats only.

    October 27, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  4. Jill, California

    How much money does Lieberman receive from the insurance companies? But then again, he does has good health care for life. Try living in the real world Joe.

    October 27, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  5. Bob

    Then we'll call it the Lieberman filibuster. We'll bring in cots and TV cameras. Then he can explain to voters why he doesn't want to allow them choice. And he can explain why he's voting party-line Republican. And then he can say goodbye to his committee assignments.

    October 27, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  6. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    This guy has been a pain in everyone's behind. We should've gotten rid of him when he showed his ignorance during the elections. So the question is: who got to him,and how much moola is he getting?

    October 27, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Zago

    So he's saying that he's worse that any right wing extremist. You can't teach an old dog nwe tricks. Forget it. The guy is a republican. Remember, he was McCain campaign co-chair. What would you expect more from him. He needs wars. He needs blood! No peace! No social justice! We get the message Joe. The Democratic vice-presidential nominee campaingning against a democratic ticket for the next election cycle. Have a bit of shame!

    October 27, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  8. ART

    I once had respect for joe leiberman, but alas this two faced idiot should be voted out ,turn coat begone

    October 27, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. Lillie

    Lieberman is in favor of the crooked insurance companies...vote him out next time!!!..

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

    Will Reid ever listen to a voice of reason or did he have a motive to set the bill up for rejection with a "state opt out"? That would never work for so many reasons. Seems Lieberman hit the nail on the head.

    October 27, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Dave

    Haaaaaaaaaaa, YOU GO JOE!
    I wonder if the Dems even thought about what could happen when they tried to push him out of the senate and supported Ned in the primary? Looks like Joe just got payback.LOL

    October 27, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    If Benedict Lieberman, or any other Democratic Senator doesn't vote for cloture then they should be stripped of any and all chairman positions, period. It is unconscienable that he or any other Senator would vote against the party to even bring it to the floor for a vote!

    October 27, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  13. Slider

    There's a word to describe Senator Reid during his latest presser on this issue...


    October 27, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  14. Right Leaning Independent

    Way to go Joe!!!! Public Option is the 1st step toward a single payer system!!! No Public Option!!!

    October 27, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Joshua College Station Texas

    Lieberman's reasoning sounds fair enough, but after switching parties just to remain a career politician, his credibility is weak. So he is not loyal, but I didn't expect him to be. But what a joke. This guy is going to be stick in the mud just to be difficult. I guess that's the nice thing about being an "independent" now. You can screw everyone and be loyal to no one. How self-serving.

    October 27, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. Lulu'

    I knew it..............

    this man is the biggest traitor ever..............

    I hope he'll lose his seat soon.

    October 27, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  17. Anna, Mo

    Of course he says this. His words are chosen very carefully to cover himself. He wants something, and press time is right up there at the top of his list. Is he really willing to take down the whole healthcare reform bill, the top priority of this administration, and the Demcratic party, and expect to remain in any Chairmanship in January. He will find a way to vote for the bill, even if it has the public option. Just got to do his grandstanding first.

    October 27, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  18. Jim in Philadelphia

    What is this fool still in the Senate for? I thought most Republicans got voted out in the last round?

    October 27, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. sonny chapman

    Since when did an ultra-Liberal have philosophical problems with a govt. run program? The lil fellow is still p/o @ the Dems.

    October 27, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  20. Cindy

    All those who vote against the Public Option will be voted out.

    All these Senator and Members of the Congress need to know this.

    By 2012 all the Defunct Republican Party Jokers are going to be voted out.

    Republican Party is the Garbage of American Politics, Dump the Garbage.

    October 27, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. We need a public option!

    We need a public option, unfortunately, because insurance companies have screwed this up so royally, that we cannot trust them. There needs to be some competition to bring prices down. My family's premiums just went up AGAIN. Something has got to be done, we don't get raises, but we have to pay more – every year. Lieberman, you don't know what it is like for the average American, who has to foot the bill for health care. Let us have the public option to choose from, please!

    October 27, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  22. Grrr-awful-o

    Opt-out sounds like a very bad idea. What if a quarter of all states decide to opt out? This is not inconceivable since there are far more states than that who are conservative (red states). A lot of people in those states don't want the government healthcare as proposed so far.

    If 25% or more states opt out, will they still have to pay for other states' health insurance? Or will only those states that opt in be required to pay? Pretty soon it becomes a state by state healthcare framework. And the economy of scale is an essential part of the current proposals (so they presumably won't work if all states are helping to pay). If this is the case (and I can't see how it won't be) then states really can't Opt out because those taxpayers will be paying twice: once for the whole country (for which they opted out of) and once for their own actual healthcare expenses. Who would pay twice? No one! So no states would opt out unless they don't have to pay for the national plan. And I'm pretty sure the national plan won't allow for that – will it?

    Would some politician please answer this question? CNN, how about asking!

    October 27, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  23. PappyHappy


    It is time for the Administration to START OVER - CLEAN PIECE OF PAPER!! Keep the far left and far right out of the picture, and develop a true Health Care Reform package for the American people - NOT THE US GOVERNMENT.

    As a minimum, the following elements should be included:

    * TORT reform – a real driver of costs!
    * Health Savings Accounts to allow individuals to at least be partially responsible for their OWN health care.
    * Inter-border health insurance sales
    * Targeted language for fraud, waste and abuse of MEDICARE and MEDICAID.
    * New initiatives to provide scholarships for doctors and nurses to pursue medicine to preclude a further shortage of doctors and nurses. Folks, there is no need to develop a ‘Health Care System’ if you do not have a viable delivery system.
    * Language that will permit government funds for health care be only expended for US CITIZENS.


    October 27, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  24. Proud Member..Party of No

    This is more rare than a spotted owl.......a democrat with a brain.

    October 27, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  25. hockeybear

    Joe Liebermann is a traitor to the Democratic Party. Put the old geezer out to pasture. He needs to go.

    October 27, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
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