Posts Tagged ‘Joe Lieberman’

Joe Lieberman: Very Serious Person

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Uh oh, this is going to make Chuck Lane’s job difficult:

Mr. Lieberman had supported the Medicare buy-in proposal in the past — both as the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000 and in more recent discussions about the health care system. In an interview this year, he reiterated his support for the concept.

But in the interview, Mr. Lieberman said that he grew apprehensive when a formal proposal began to take shape. He said he worried that the program would lead to financial trouble and contribute to the instability of the existing Medicare program.

And he said he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system.

“Congressman Weiner made a comment that Medicare-buy in is better than a public option, it’s the beginning of a road to single-payer,” Mr. Lieberman said. “Jacob Hacker, who’s a Yale professor who is actually the man who created the public option, said, ‘This is a dream. This is better than a public option. This is a giant step.’”

So there you have it; Joe Lieberman used to think Medicare buy-in was a good idea, then he found out that Rep. Weiner and Jacob Hacker thought it was a good idea and he changed his mind. Nothing about the intricate workings of policy, budget mechanics, or anything like that; the fact that a couple of liberals were happy with the idea was enough to get Holy Joe to do an about face on it.

The most important public policy question this country has dealt with in the last 60 years is being held hostage by an admitted sociopath right now.  Yay Senate!

Left Radio Watch

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008


Let me be clear: Harry Reid is the Senate leader. As such, he’s expected to, you know, lead the Senate.

Yet read the tea leaves, and all you see are unnamed Senate aides whining that Reid wants to give the Homeland Security chairmanship to a Democrat who has earned the post, but is being undermined by Obama (another unitary executive?), or Dodd, or Nelson, or whoever.

So to remind everyone, Harry Reid is the Senate leader. As such, he’s expected to, you know, lead the Senate.

If he fails, then he shouldn’t be Senate leader.

Look, Kos is an incredibly good political organizer and fundraiser. God knows no one can deny that with a straight face. But this is just incredibly bombastic, and demonstrates a worrying lack of understanding as to the way the Senate runs in the real world.

Look, Harry Reid may be the Senate Majority Leader, but “leader” is little more than a titular fact. The truth is that, ultimately, no one really leads the Senate. The Senate is an incredibly arrogant, insulated, body. Most of the members have been in government for decades. Every individual accounts for a full 1% of the membership (as opposed to the 0.25% a member of the House accounts for). Senators are elected by their entire state, and only have to stand for re-election once every 6 years. Individual members can hold up legislation in committee, dedicated minorities can filibuster the majority’s agenda. And the simple fact of the matter is that being Senate Majority Leader, unlike being Speaker of the House, is a very, very crappy job. Which is the chied reason why the post is held by guys like Tom Daschle and Harry Reid and not Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton.

The simple fact of the matter is that Harry Reid, majority leader in title or not, simply doesn’t have the sway to do anything to Lieberman if the Democratic caucus, and Barack Obama, doesn’t support him. And it seems pretty clear, at this point, that the caucus probably doesn’t support it. And with good reason; Lieberman has a Senate seatfor at least the next 4years, and can make life hell for the Democrats, to say nothing of the beating the Beltway press will give to Obama is his term kicks off with an internal Senate war.

I’ve written before that, given a majority, the “netroots” needs to take great pains to avoid becoming the new version of the talk radio right. And, with that in mind, let’s keep in mind that the Republicans started their peak term, in 2005, with the right-wing making a lot of noise about removing Arlen Spectator from his chairmanship of the Judiciary Committee, and that term turned out not so well for them. Just saying.

Lieberman’s Votes

Monday, November 10th, 2008

Yesterday, Harry Reid seemed to back down a bit as it relates to Joe Lieberman’s position in the Senate:

Steve Benen responds:

Senate Democrats will make their decision about Lieberman’s future in the caucus, and they’ll have plenty of information and context to consider. But it’s important that senators get beyond the notion that Lieberman is a reliable and consistent progressive voice on everything but military affairs and national security. If only that were true.

Even if we put aside his painful betrayals throughout the campaign cycle, there are those actual votes in the Senate to consider, including his support for Bush’s judicial nominees, private school vouchers, and partnering with Rick Santorum a few years back to promote Bush’s “faith-based” initiative. It’s not, in other words, just Iraq policy.

That doesn’t seem right to me. Yes Lieberman voted to confirm John Roberts, but so did 21 other Democrats including such staunch Bush opponents and progressive Senators as Carl Levin, Robert Byrd, Chris Dodd, and Russ Feingold. Lieberman did then vote against confirmation for Samuel Alito, along with all but 4 Democratic Senators. As for vouchers, Lieberman has supported them, but it has largely been somewhat moderated proposals, and a part of a broader platform of supported positions, including being one of the first Democrats to embrace charter schools. Upon being picked as Al Gore’s running mate, the American Federation of Teachers said of Lieberman:

“Sen. Lieberman’s support for public education is unquestionable,” she said. “He has never been out to destroy the public education system. He has an excellent voting record, an open mind, is a really intelligent person.”

But she acknowledged: “Look, I’m not saying [opposition to] vouchers isn’t way up there on our list. It is. We have a disagreement on that, and there’s no papering it over.”

In other words, while he might not have been in total agreement on the issue, it wasn’t a deal breaker in any sense, and there were broad areas of agreement. As far asfaith based initiatives go, not that he’s the gold standard for porgressives, but Barack Obama has supported them as well. So Lieberman’s record on all of these issues is not outisde of the Democratic mainstream in any real sense, and I’m still not convinced that it’s in the interest of the Democratic agenda to start what will probably be their peak term with an intra-party fight over Joe Lieberman.

More Lieberman

Saturday, November 8th, 2008

I really hate to say this, but Evan Bayh is right.

Look, there’s a time and a place for everything. There actually is a good time to cull your caucus for the good of the party or movement. But the term of what is probably your peak position is not that time. Let’s be clear, 2010 presents some opportunities for Democrats, especially in the Senate, but not many. And history will not be on their side. So whether Democrats end up with 57 or 58 or even 59 seats, that’s probably going to be their peak over this particular cycle, and it’s short of 60. 60 is a little overblown, as major bills can still be passed through thebudget reconciliation process,but such a moveis going to require the support of Max Baucus, who isn’t exactly known for being a good Democrat.

So, simply put, this is not the time to go risking your votes to settle political scoreswith apostates. The agenda is too big, the procedural hurdles too high, to be causing yourself any more obstacles. If Lieberman doesn’t vote to support the Democratic agenda, then we’ve got an entirely different situation, but so long as he remains a reliable vote in favor of healthcare reform, carbon pricing, labor, and other important aspects of the agenda, he can certainly be tolerated for the far greater good.

Also, Chris Dodd kind of raises another good point:

“What does Barack Obama want?” Dodd rhetorically asked reporters Friday in Hartford. “He’s talked about reconciliation, healing, bringing people together. I don’t think he’d necessarily want to spend the first month of this president-elect period, this transition period, talking about a Senate seat, particularly if someone is willing to come forward and is willing to be a member of your family in the caucus in that sense.”

I think the better way to frame that question is; do Democrats really want their first fight of a term in which they hope to pass cap-and-trade, healthcare reform, economic stimulus, EFCA, and get out of Iraq to be an internal dispute over Droopy Dog? Really?