December 15th, 2009
07:17 PM ET
4 years ago

Lieberman: Moving towards a 'yes' vote

Washington (CNN) - Sen. Joe Lieberman told CNN Tuesday he is "moving in the direction of" voting for the Democratic health care bill, if the provisions allowing for early Medicare buy-in and a new public health insurance option are removed. And the Connecticut independent senator dismissed liberal criticism that he is acting out of bitterness over his loss in the Democratic Senate primary in 2006.

"Well that's just poppycock," he told CNN senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash. "….If I had any sense of vendetta against the Democratic Party I wouldn't be in the Democratic caucus today. I'm an independent Democrat."

His position was based on policy, not politics, he said.

Lieberman also said that even though the prospect was unlikely, he could not rule out running as a Republican in 2012: "All options are open," he told CNN.

Lieberman also denied that he was making demands because he enjoys the spotlight, pointing to a campaign launched earlier this week by progressive activists to convince the nation's largest breast cancer non-profit organization to dump his wife Hadassah Lieberman as an honorary spokeswoman. "I can tell you that inside myself I have not enjoyed this period of time. I've done what I thought was right, but it's no fun to have your colleagues be angry at you. It's no fun to have your wife attacked. But, you know, you got to do what you think is right.

"So, no. I'd be happy to have some time out of (the) limelight."

Lieberman said he had not yet decided whether to vote for health care reform. "Here's what I'd say. I've always wanted to be able to say yes to health care reform. But there were some parts of this bill, public option, Medicare buy-in that I thought would essentially lead to a government takeover of health care in America, which I'm against, because I think it would reduce quality and increase prices and certainly raise the debt, and taxes."

Lieberman said that if the public option and Medicare buy-in are taken out – and following a review of the actual language and a cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office – he would then "be in a position to do what I've wanted to do, which is to say yes to health care reform.

"I'm moving very much in the direction of saying yes, pending just seeing what I've been told is happening with the bill."

After Lieberman joined Senate Democrats at a meeting Tuesday with President Barack Obama, the president said Congress was "on the precipice" of passing a sweeping health care reform bill.

"There are some differences that still have to be worked on… (but) there is broad consensus around (a set of) reforms," he said.

Unanimous Republican opposition to health care legislation so far means Senate Democrats need the backing of all 60 members of their caucus – including Lieberman - to end debate on the bill and move to a final vote, which will be decided by a simple majority.

Filed under: Health care • Joe Lieberman • Popular Posts
soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. Joe

    I know he says he does not hold a grudge and he is only almost 70 yrs. old. Something seems different though from past years even though he was never far left from my recollection. I didn't pay attention to him in the early years of his career. It seems to me though that he did take things somewhat personally and it does influence the legislature he supports and the legislation he chooses not to. I think there is some of a "grudge" there. What is on the table now should not be a dealbreaker. It seems like a compromise already. I'm guessing he kind of likes the spotlight.

    December 15, 2009 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  2. Michael

    I hope this works or we will have damaged a Piece of our economy that still was working. Unless of course Democrats no longer represent high taxed and more disfunctional government but now it includes higher Unemployment. I'll see your Welfare and add Government Health care few people who will have to pay for it -want.

    December 15, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  3. NoOneHome

    Lieberman might vote yes. Then again, once he gets the provisions he objects to removed, he might just find something else to object to. And thus stall the bill – but mostly perpetuate his time in the spot light and inflate out of all merit his significance as a lawmaker – for even longer.

    I wonder if as a nation we're doomed to forever alternate between a can't get anything done Democrat government and a screw everything up Republican government. With short term memory voters switching from one to the other in the false hope that any real progress will be made. Then I realize with "independents" like Joe, we can have both "get nothing done" and "screw everything up" in one tidy package.

    December 15, 2009 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  4. achdulieberman

    Why did you not think to ask Lieberman why he is 'all of a sudden' against a medicare 'buy-in', when it has been historically his campaign issue?

    December 15, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. karen

    Do you think that Joe Lieberman could possibly change from being an Independent senator to a Republican senator. After all, Senator Arlen Spector changed from Republican to a Democrat. If Lieberman did this then the Senate would never have the 60 votes to pass any bill.

    December 15, 2009 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  6. Jim H, Glendale, CA

    Joe is a sleazy jerk whose money comes from insurance companies, and who was elected with the cooperation of Karl Rove.

    December 15, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  7. Annie, Atlanta

    This man is throwing a wrench in the works because Rep. Weiner was "too enthusiastic" about the medicare buy in. Does he have an axe to grind against progressive democrat? Could it be that they primaried him in 2006 and won? I think Joe's a little vindictive, no?

    December 15, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  8. Erick

    I feel that We should suggest that Senator Lieberman should resign soon because I notice that he is a big ego and he like to get attention by the people. I never forget that when he lost the election when he was democrat who lost to the other CT democrat then he decided to change the party to independent. That is obviously he is selfish and ego. If he lost the election. He should humble and accept. I think resignation is best option for him. I don't really like him. We don't trust him. He needs to go.

    December 15, 2009 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  9. Francis, Maui

    Being right from his heart is one thing but being right because of being swayed by the Insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists and his wife is not right.

    December 15, 2009 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  10. Phylis

    I've really found Joe Liberman's arguments on this issue flawed at best, obstructionist for the sake of his insurance lobby support. I find it really distressing that he's holding the Democrats hostage after they let him back into the caucus after his behavior during the election. So disheartening.

    December 15, 2009 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  11. KThomas

    Good 'ol "Flip Flop Joe"....wonder what the Obama, Emanuel, et. al. bribed him with to lean towards "yes". This is a sham and should not be passed!!!!

    December 15, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  12. Not gonna pass

    lmaybe joe is gonna now say he will vote for it. But the far left democrats like Dean are calling for the bill to be killed.

    It sounds like the Dems are gonna be the ones who are now the party of NO.

    They cant come together and get thier own agenda passed

    December 15, 2009 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. Jose

    Sore Loserman. I'm tired of this dude hijacking what needs to be done in this country. Kick him out to Alaska and let him freeze you know what! Palin can keep him warm!

    December 15, 2009 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  14. SamSunny

    Maybe a move to Israel would be a better choice.

    December 15, 2009 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  15. Tanbiker2

    If Joe Lieberman does succeed in removing the Medicare buy-in provision from the health care reform bill, thereby removing the last vestige of the much needed option, the American people need to take direct action against him. It's not for me to say what that action should be, but Lieberman has already made clear that he doesn't care about America or Americans. He is a jew who gives his first and only loyalty to the state of Israel. Since he loves Israel so much, perhaps it would be a good idea to deport him there. Lieberman is no different that Adolph Eichmann except that he withholds decent medical care from ordinary people instead of directly inflicting cruel medical treatment as Eichmann did. They are two peas in a pod and deserve a similar fate.

    December 15, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  16. Russ H

    He seems to be a person that does know what he wants, democrat, republican or independent. If he does not make up his mind, he will not be anybody.

    December 15, 2009 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  17. Glen Keen

    This little squirrel Joe seems to be demanding from the Democratic Party to have his nuts cracked for him as payment for a "yes" vote. I am heartily in favor of that action. Should have happened long ago.

    December 15, 2009 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |
  18. Edward Parsons, MD

    Senator Lieberman is denying how much of his position is based on his huge ego that is getting more spotlight because of his obstructionism. In face, he previously worked for a Medicare buy-in. If he goes along with his Democratic colleagues he will lose the spotlight. I have lost total respect for this man.

    December 15, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  19. E. Charles Douglas

    Cnn, is this CNN's talking points now? Trying to redirect attnetion that ol Joe home state of Conneticut is home of the health insurance companies. No where in this article was this mentioned. I'm going to start calling CNN Fox News Jr.

    December 15, 2009 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  20. laura from willis

    Joe Lieberman should take a good hard look in a full length mirror.
    AND, pay close attention. He is so iffy, when it comes to his Political Party Preference.
    And now, with 22,000 of his States residents serving as Employees with Health Care Insurance Companies.
    With his Bankroll of money from such Corporations, he has the Nerve to try to hold the public hostage, as a deciding voter.
    What a MAN????????
    How can anyone live with himself, knowing how sneaky and sly he is?
    How can he face his fellow Senators, knowing he is acting like a 10 year old.:.If you don't play my game...I "ain't" gonna play with you!"

    He makes me ill. Heaven help the State he represents. I would be so ashamed!

    December 15, 2009 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  21. Mickey

    Traitor Joe better vote yes, if he knows whats good for his political career.

    December 15, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  22. Bill

    If Lieberman were really concerned with the impact on citizens rather than the insurance companies than he would recognize that the CBO analysis estimates that a strong public option would be in their best interest and support one rather than derailing it.

    December 15, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  23. ultimato

    Joe conveniently forgets that he was FOR an "early Medicare buy-in until just recently. The most hypocritical politician in the world.

    December 15, 2009 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  24. Richard Basham

    Senator Lieberman real concern is he does not want to lose the money from the major insurance companies that resides in Hartford Connecticut. He is claiming that is wants to do the right thing but this is a smokescreen and bologna. He has his hands out and pockets opened to his personal political interests which is not the interest of the people. He has a premium health care package but you can bet he doesn't want ordinary citizens to have such quality health care.

    December 15, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  25. AZ Senior

    Joe Lieberman is just another worthless, self-indulging senator, just like the two from AZ (John McCain and Jon Kyl). When the young people of this country finally get their education, get their wits about them and grasp the gravity of the situation, they will understand that that the congressional elections control their destiny (not presidential elections), and they will vote these bums out (as they should). I'm 70, and I'm embarrassed by the mindless and provincial attitude of my peers. Government should be there to serve the people; it should NOT be about money. Money will never bring happiness; it's personal satisfaction, security (like national health care), and being able to have peice of mind for everyday living, that leads to a happy life. The personal greed, and thrust for reelection, of our country's politicians, is embarrassing, and a joke seen by the rest of the world.

    December 15, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
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