Monday, November 23, 2009

Senate votes to begin full debate on US healthcare reforms.

With the Senate voting for a full debate on Obama's healthcare proposals, snakes like Joe Lieberman can prepare to enjoy their moment in the sun.

However, there were indications of more problems ahead for the US president as several senators crucial to winning the vote said they would not support the legislation as it is currently written.

They said this was because of the inclusion of a government-run insurance option, albeit one falling far short of that proposed by Obama after public protests and heavy lobbying by the health insurance industry.

The Senate voted along party lines, with all 58 Democrats and two independents producing exactly the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster.

However, we have now reached the exact point at which Lieberman, now joined by two others, has all along threatened to use the filibuster.

If he does this the Democrats really do need to come down on him as hard as they can. Remove his chairmanships and kick him out of the caucus.

Obama has got the US nearer than it has ever been to establishing some form of universal healthcare. It would be a tragedy if this was to fail at this point, especially if it was filibustered with the help of people supposedly on the Democratic side of the debate.

The bill drawn up by the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, is designed to ensure 94% of Americans are covered by health insurance by – among other things – offering government-run health insurance, alongside private companies, that individual states could opt out of if they objected.

Reid said it was morally right that reform of the US healthcare system, in a country in which half of all bankruptcies are the result of medical bills and half of those are among people who have private health insurance, would now be debated by the full Senate.

"Imagine if, instead of debating whether to abolish slavery, instead of debating whether giving women and minorities a right to vote, those who disagreed were muted, discussion was killed," he added.

Opinion polls have shown that a clear majority of Americans support the inclusion of publicly run health insurance.

Lieberman has already made it perfectly clear that public opinion on this subject is of little interest to him.

Indeed, he pretended that this subject hadn't even been part of Obama's campaign.

"This is a kindof 11th hour addition to a debate that's gone on for decades," Lieberman told reporters tonight. "Nobody's ever talked about a public option before. Not even in the presidential campaign last year."

I asked in response, "How do you reconcile your contention that the public option wasn't part of the presidential campaign given that all three of the [leading Democratic] candidates had something along the lines of the public option in their white papers?'

"Not really, not from what I've seen. There was a little--there was a line about the possibility of it in an Obama health care policy paper," Lieberman said.

(That line read, "Specifically, the Obama plan will: (1) establish a new public insurance program, available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers, as well as to small businesses that want to offer insurance to their employees," and went on from there.)

I said, "And at the time Senator Clinton, and John Edwards also had..."

"Edwards probably had it more than anybody else," Lieberman said. "But Clinton, Obama, McCain--I don't see it. Anyway, I'm opposed to it."

The American public have made their views on this perfectly plain. Every opinion poll says that a large majority want a public option in healthcare.

Snakes like Lieberman, a man who once ran on the Democratic ticket, now appears to be against decades of Democratic policy. The Democrats have always favoured universal healthcare, so it's very odd that former Democrats like Lieberman now find the entire notion so repugnant.

First, he favoured the Iraq war, now he opposes a public option in healthcare; was he ever really a Democrat?

Click here for full article.


Steel Phoenix said...

As much as he is my least favorite politician, I think taking away chairmanships over his position on the public option seems pretty sketchy.

They had the perfect opportunity to be rid of him when he rejected the nomination of his Democratic opponent and ran against him. They blew it.

Kel said...

I agree that they should have taken action much sooner but they kept him on board because they believed he was a Democrat on every subject apart from the Iraq war.

Now it appears he is willing to filibuster healthcare, I think they should punish him by taking away the things which he is attached to, like his chairmanships.

They should also kick him out of the caucus. He is, if opinion polls are correct, voting against the wishes of his own electorate.

The man is an abomination, they should kick him into touch.