December 15th, 2009
07:17 PM ET
6 months 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. redhead1

    Of course Lieberman is looking for publicity and to cater to him is absurd. Hold ground and stay the course. Medicare buy-in and the public option is the only way to keep viable a real health plan, not one to cater to lobbyists. It's the only way to keep pressure to keep prices down and quality up. His rhetoric shows he is a true politician and clearly no longer a real independent. No one cares about working together, only cares to further particular political interests.

    December 15, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. Wes

    Lieberman is a skunk and derserves to be sanctioned and kicked out of the Democratic Party and Connecticut. I hope he realizes how much he is despised.

    December 15, 2009 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  3. BIG

    Are you kidding???? This whole debate is about politics, money and
    power. This debate is about blue and red. This debate is about
    left and right. Most of the anti-health care reform is actually anti-Obama. If this bill was completely cost free, there would be just as
    many in opposition as there are now. How many are suffering while
    the politicians debate an issue for 20-30 years? We have money to
    save the economy but not quite enough to save lives. Our priorities
    are so misguided that I have lost all hope that we can solve the many
    issues confronting this generation and the generations to come!
    The earth will disentrgrate while our representatives fight for there
    personal political careers.

    December 15, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  4. Helene

    How much has he been paid for his vote ? More than what he receives from the insurance companies ?

    December 15, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  5. ben

    cnn,

    no wonder you are losing so many viewers. you all just try and appease each side. real journalists would tell people in this story that lieberman was for the medicare buy-in only three months ago, and for universal coverage about 5 or 6 years ago. try telling the whole story instead of these little snippets that are obviously weighed to one side or the other.

    December 15, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  6. Eddie Sanchez

    What a Dirty Rotten Scoundrel. Looks like he's holding out for more money from the Insurance Industry. Seems like him all his cronies have been playing to much poker.

    December 15, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  7. Alan

    Today is a very sad day in America. Real healthcare reform held up by one independent senator and all Republicans who would rather stick together as ostrich's with their heads in the sand instead of working for everyday American's to provide decent and affordable healthcare for all American's. This bill is nothing more than mild insurance reform of which the insurance companies will work hard to find and exploit every loophole in the bill to increase their profits at the expense of basic health. While supportive of Obama and the Democrats I see this as nothing but a win for Big Insurance and the Republicans. Today is a very very sad day in America. Traitor Joe has got to go.

    December 15, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  8. D Chak

    Sen. Lieberman has all the rights he wants to block the bill but he should be mindful in his dealings.

    December 15, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  9. jeff

    I find it very funny that the President can say that he is not negotiating or twisting arms to get a crappy bill passed. If he really was serious about passing a bill that the people want why would he not meet with both sides. He promised the American's change but you know what the only change is that he is there and Bush is not which is not really a change. If he can fire CEO's whats next fire a Senator well at least threaten them or promise the state something. This is crazy .

    December 15, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  10. Bill or Vin from Philly

    LIEberman should just leave the U.S. and run for the Knesset in Israel he sat out the Vietnam war, has not done one thing for the working people in this country. just stuffed his pockets with insurance co. money

    December 15, 2009 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  11. AJ

    Old Joe likes the position of power the democrats have allowed him and the pansies in the party continue to take his crap. Its time to let our democratic leaders know that either he goes, or they do.

    December 15, 2009 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  12. Nolan H. Goldberg

    It is obvious that Sen. Joe Lieberman, I, CT, is much more loyal to the insurance industry that owns his state and has bought his vote than he is to the greater goods of public health, deficit reduction and sound economic principles. The insurance industry and big pharmaceutical companies are the enemy of the public and the future in this battle for economic survival. Senators possess a fiduciary responsibility to their constituents, more so the socially and economically disadvantaged. Large corporations and the wealthy need no such protection. His treasonous actions in this battle for the future must be met with termination of his career. The economic drain he is causing will make the effects of Al Quaida and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan pale by comparison. Shame on all Senators and Congresspersons who have stood in the way – doubly so on Senator Joe Lieberman, who reversed his stated position to do the right thing. Hopefully, the good people of Connecticut will rise up and vote him out before he does much more damage to the United States.

    December 15, 2009 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  13. American Citizen

    I have to say, you are right. Lieberman has only one thing in sight- himself. He is a dilusional man, who likes to be in control.
    He literally makes me sick. When he comes on with his whinny voice and hislack of knowledge, I get neauseated . How the people of American can let this maniac try to destroy the good that is being done is a shame. He should be run out of office and politics forever. He is literally unbalanced.

    December 15, 2009 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  14. m smith

    we would love for you to be out of the lime light too.

    December 15, 2009 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  15. unemployed by Obama

    normal democrates, cant attack you so they go after your family, soon we will vote all the crooks out.

    December 15, 2009 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  16. Predicta

    Smart political move. Joe sees the country moving quickly to the right and he's positioning himself accordingly.

    December 15, 2009 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  17. Okoh

    Senator Lieberman is a limelight seeker.

    December 15, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  18. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Democrats will negotiate with Lieberman so let him have his one day in the spotlight before his demise.

    December 15, 2009 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  19. phillip Marlowe

    if there is no public option and no medicaid buy in, just what did they reform? As the song goes, Absolutely nothing" this victory for Obama will be as hollow as the Nobel Peace Prize was.

    December 15, 2009 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  20. Accountability

    He is NOT a Democrat...dump him for good....let's see how comfortable he will be in the party of Limbaugh O'Reilly and Beck....he deserves them now....

    December 15, 2009 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  21. Tim E

    So, if there is a way to absolutely guarantee that health care will not be accessible and affordable to all, with no disqualifications on the basis of pre-existing conditions and no prohibitive increases in premiums for pre-existing conditions, with loss of benefits for extended care at levels sufficient to assure profitability for private insurance companies, Senator Joe just might be persuaded to vote in favor of such a proposal. How lucky can American get?

    December 15, 2009 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  22. normajean

    Now that he has about blown the Democrates health plan out of the water, he says he may vote for it.This man has a problem. Over the years he has repeatedly reversed himself on any number of bills and voting situations. I think both parties would be wise to avoid dealing with him and I also think if there is any legitamate way to remove him from power, it should be done immediately before he does irreparable damage to our government.
    .

    December 15, 2009 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
  23. Brandonious

    Good ole "Droopy Dog" Joe Lieberman. I guess these are the kinds of decisions you make when you are tucked securely in the back pocket of the insurance industry. We could have real reform that will actually help people, but thanks to people like Joe here who are on the take from insurance companies the American people get to continue to struggle with an overpriced and under-effective system, the laughingstock of the industrialized world. Way to go Joe, you represent everything that disgusts me about politics.

    December 15, 2009 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  24. terri wesley

    Sell out......trader....warch your numbers go down and be out of office...how could you be so wishy washy and let your people die....like I said. you are bought off.....all of America is aware of it..shame on you Joe. good luck on your next re-election...

    December 15, 2009 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  25. Charleston, SC

    So, Lieberman will be for health care reform if everything of meaning is removed in the meantime.

    December 15, 2009 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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