August 23rd, 2009
12:51 PM ET
13 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. jon

    President Obama is the only one to blame if health care doesn't get passed. He had every chance in the world to do it right off the bat when he was inaugurated. Instead, he chose to pay off his cronies before he considered helping the helpless.

    August 23, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Farrell in Houston

    These old guys and their families have the best insurance and for many years thanks to Americans who pay the bill.

    August 23, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. Mark in Atlanta

    I agree with Alec Baldwin. I have no use for Lieberman.

    August 23, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  4. CK

    60's Survivor says... "Lieberman is insured – right?? as well as most the republicans…"

    Yes, most republicans work, or own businesses that offer insurance to their workers.

    Most welfare recipients vote Democrat. You should give something to society if you want something back.

    August 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  5. Dave in Texas

    Finally a Democrat with a brain.

    August 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown

    LIEberman should go back to sucking up to Bush and Cheney!

    August 23, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  7. Bob of Lompoc

    The Senator from the State of Israel speaks ! Go to hell Senator. You don't represent Americans, you creep.

    August 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  8. RobertD

    Tell you what, Joe. You give up your taxpayer-supported, government-run insurance, and I'll be prepared to wait longer for mine. Seems to most of us that if it's good enough for you (and the rest of our senators and representatives), it should be good enough for your constituents.

    August 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. annie s

    And this is the problem – self serving legislators who can't see the urgency because they can not relate to average Americans. This obnoxious Senator has great government funded health insurance and doesn't have to worry about being bankrupted by medical bills or being denied coverage. I sincerely hope the good people of Connecticut will finally vote this egotistical, manipulative and out of touch politician out of office next time around.

    August 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  10. Rita OHIO

    Here comes Joe. No wonder Alec Baldwin would love to run against this clown.

    Sure Joe. We'll play it your way. Give up your taxpaper funded health insurance plan until the recession is over and let us, the taxpapers, vote whether or not we want to give it back to you.

    Time to earn your pay Joe. We want options, cost control and less denials of claim.

    August 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. Ted

    Gee I thought the whole thing was to cover the uninsured. Let's not insure the illegal aliens, but send them home. But American citizens that are not insured should be insured. We have billions and trillions to spend on stupid wars, but zero dollars to spend on American citizens that are uninsured.

    What a stupid country this is? What a bunch of stupid politicians we have elected? God save us from ourselves.

    August 23, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  12. Mamanomia

    Wrong Joe...wrong...get an ounce of compassion and portray what a real democracy should emulate...We are a disgrace...and health care is a mess..It's not's a systematic destruction of what humanity should exemplify-well being.

    August 23, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. ellen

    How many pre-existing conditions are at epidemic levels in America? Everybody will have a family member with one, if they don't already, in the next few years.

    Over 14,000 Americans lose their health care coverage EVERY SINGLE DAY. How many days or weeks will pass before it is you? Tens of millions already have no health care coverage. Is it in any way morally right to let these Americans into the tens of millions suffer without care? Is it feasible to let the insured mitigate the cost of their thousands of emergency room visits with their own insurance premiums?

    Lieberman has no credibility whatsoever. This show was heavily balanced towards the Republican view as well.

    August 23, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  14. Al

    Sen Cardin will be unemployed next fall. If we are lucky here in Maryland we can get rid of that other idiot Senator as well. Let's break the entire GD country for the sake of some 15 million or so who can't get insurance. As for the 35 million who could get it but choose not to, screw them, they are either illegals or choose to spend their money on other stuff.

    August 23, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. HJA

    All this talk and both sides ignore the for profit nature of health insurance. If Wall Street wants a cut fine. 90% tax on profits to Wall Street. Investors trying to cash in on peoples health problems, no tax deductions of any kind. That includes medical expenses. Both sides in this debacle are corrupt. Lets all vote independent next time. Except for Joe.

    August 23, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Hope

    Why are they forcing down Insurance companies down our throats, we want a public option and are willing pay the same money we pay to Blue cross.

    August 23, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  17. Petena

    Joe: I give you a challenge: Stop your coverage IMMEDIATELY and don't get insured again UNTIL WE ALL HAVE IT. Fair? You are a complete moron. So everyone "HOLD" off those illnesses, don't invite cancer to enter your body until Joe says "go". Idiot.

    August 23, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  18. D. Tree

    Doing nothing is the easiest thing for a politician to do – and Joe Lieberman should know.

    August 23, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. AJ

    It will be convenient for Joe when the insurance industry gives him a phone call telling him he can move on it. Not before.

    August 23, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. howie

    Thanks Joe, great remarks. Hope more liberals spin the same message. We simply can not and should not have a government option. I know how the government works, retired form dept of defense after 33 years. The government will screw it up. Additionally I can not believe any sane person believes that a government.s cost option would be less that private

    August 23, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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