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In defense of Joe Lieberman [*CORRECTION APPENDED]

health care reforminsurance companiesJoe Liebermanpublic option

Joe Lieberman, health care reform, public option Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut is taking a beating for saying he'd be willing to scuttle healthcare if the final plan has a public option. A Benedict Arnold, they call him, a traitor, and much, much worse. So I'd like to stick up for the senator because this, my friends, is a stand up guy.

That's right, here are rock solid principles in action. Lieberman doesn't care if most people in Connecticut want a public option. Nor does he care if most people in America want it. He doesn't care if he shoots down healthcare reform entirely and destroys the best hope for reform in decades.

And nor should he. Because a deal is a deal, people! And if the citizens of Connecticut aren't his constituents, and the people of America aren't either, that just leaves the insurance companies.

There are senators who get more from the industry -- John McCain for one, and even then-Sen. Barack Obama received quite a bit of cash support back in the day. But I like to think that Joe's relationship is special.

If he rigs the game so that all Americans have to purchase insurance but insurance companies don't have any competition, surely he will have surpassed the industry's wildest expectations. Five'll get you ten he finds a cushy landing at Aetna or Cigna or some other insurance giant when he's out of office. And if he does, then I will applaud. It would depress me if, after he sabotages the national interest, insurance companies "rescinded" his policy.

But that's just speculation.

Maybe it's not that deep. Maybe he's a power-happy idiot who just likes to see everyone squirm.

--Lisa Richardson

*Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly said Lieberman isn't running for office again. In fact, Lieberman has said he's considering "all sorts of options" for 2012. 

Photo: Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) acknowledges cheers before addressing delegates at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., on Sept. 2, 2008. Credit: Genaro Molino / Los Angeles Times


Comments () | Archives (52)

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Joe from Connecticut

Or maybe because he does not have to run for re-election he has the decency to vote what is good for America for a change.

By all means cover everyone (by subsidising catastrophic insurance for the poor), break up the state by state insurance monopolies, but don't create another government bureaucracy whose only purpose is to remind people that what government gives, government can take away - so you better vote our way.

Sour grapes Lisa...

Mimi Stewart

Just another idiot who cares about himself more than he cares about the people in his country. GREED is the name of the name folks!


And maybe Lieberman has more common sense than the BOX OF ROCKS the writer of this sarcastic drivel is attempting to emulate!

Nancy from Kansas

In a time when politics are so devisive, it is heartening to see anyone voting for themselves; not for whatever political alliance you happen to have. And I do not believe MOST people are in favor of a public option. At best, it is a 50/50 split. This whole idea of healthcare reform deserves to have sufficient time devoted to it so that a solution is reached that will be beneficial to all; not just the squeaky wheels. Jamming it through as fast as possible with a purposeless deadline can only mean disaster. Whats the hurry? The programs won't take affect for several years. By that time the people who are needing relief now will have dealt with thier situation, for good or for bad. This is not the sort of governance fitting for our great country.


Bravo! When I read the headline I expected an apologia for actions which I regard as reprehensible. Senate rules regarding the closing of debate are antiquated and destructive. There are plenty of good reasons why NO ONE who belonged to a 60+ party caucus has EVER voted against his/her own caucus. But Joe Lieberman, who is happy to accept Democrat caucus blessings as the chair of a high profile committee, is an INDEPENDENT who left his home party when he failed to win a primary, and who uses this position to choose to be Republican or Democrat when it is convenient. For some it is so vital that they hold onto office that they are willing to shuck any sense of consistent principles. Shame!


"don't create another government bureaucracy whose only purpose is to remind people that what government gives, government can take away"

Yep. Yes, sir-ee, that's the purpose of all government agencies. And the purpose of private industry is, by law, to make money... so they don't have to give you ANYTHING AT ALL if they can make money and cover their butts legally. It's hard to get away with that at a large scale for any substantial length of time, so the truly shady people run the fly-by-nights, but even the large established companies have that as their fundamental raison d'etre. In the final analysis, that's what pulling the strings. This fundamental issue -- running society on this fuel -- is one of the big reasons we had to take a defibrilator to the economy when the music stopped and there weren't enough chairs to go around.

Look, the ostensible purpose of government -- remember the preamble to the Constitution? -- is to "promote the general welfare." Not to make money, not to do a bait-and-switch, not to simply run roughshod over people for the sheer joy of it. And we have plenty of services run for the general welfare. Cops, roads, regulation of the radio spectrum, nautical rules of the road, courts, consumer safety laws, etc. etc. Health care is expensive and complex and emotionally fraught, but is also necessary if we are to have a nation of millions -- it's *all the more reason* to have it universal, and overseen and regulated and, if possible, administered, by an organization whose purpose is not to make money off of you, but to "promote" your "welfare." Don't think of it as "unfairly competing" with private insurers, think of it as helping to keep them honest.

How about this? Almost everyone who uses Medicare is quite happy with it. So much so that the oxymoronic meme "Government hands off my Medicare!" was the best they could come up with. Medicare *is* a government program. A Public Option, while not a National Health Service like other countries have (and which work quite well there, thank you) would be like a widening of Medicare. It would bring more people into the pool, which would encourage prevention and reduce the need for desperate cure.

It's a good thing, and if you look up real groups like Physicians for a National Health Program -- not astroturf groups like Amercans for Prosperity -- you'll see why.


Joe Lieberman is acting shamefully and needs to be called out on it. He placed himself neatly to be a power broker and, unfortunately, the people of CT are letting him do it. The so-called public option is the only way to get around the entrenched greed of the insurance companies. My suggestion is, that with all his experience in getting insurance monies, they put Joe in charge of the swanky new government program (with, of course, a grossly bloated salary and, of course, fully paid health care, and of course outrageous annual bonuses) in return for his 'yes' vote. Isn't that what this is all about?

Keith Ensminger

I never understood why people like Lieberman want to deny Americans the right to pool their resources so we can become self insured with public, nonprofit health insurance. It's like saying we should have never developed public fire companies because private insurance already provided fire protection for their customers.

James Nothams

Joe Lieberman has always been a whiney, little man with a sad outlook on life. He needs to stand with change and stop being the GOP lapdog for the Limbots and Foxs hounds


The country can't wait until the selfish make the uninsured wait until they die. Joe Lieberman, you are an utter disgrace.


Excellent piece with magnificent snark. Oy, Joe is such a shandeh!


This man is a cross between a turkey and a worm. Wormkey?

Andrew Clunn

The thing about a good opinion piece is that it presents the author's opinions backed by facts. However, take away the facts, and insert some speculation about personal motivations and a few ad hominems for good measure and you get... well... shallow propaganda like this.

Buz Spaulding

Just maybe, just maybe the idiot left in this country who do nothing better than to vilify anyone who opposes there opinion goes crazy when someone does stand up for what is right.
Look at your own California. Completely broke financially and morally insolvent and you ask your self why? because it is wrong!!!!

Chris in Texas

Lieberman's vote, like the vote of most politicians, is up for sale. He's simply holding out for a bigger offer from the ultimate winning bidder.


GO JOE GO!...save us from the left wing radicals destroying the country.


Maybe, as a senator, he's dealt with constituents begging him for help in navigating the Social Security / Disability gulag where "cases" are sent to die slow painful deaths.

Maybe, as a Senator, he understands that everything the Democratic Party touches... rots.

Just maybe.

Ya think?

O! He's already rich so I doubt he needs a job at an insurance company after he finishes up in the Senate.


Rake Morgan

Lieberman says he is against the public option to protect the American taxpayer. Interestingly, during the 2004 presidential campaign, he left the New Hampshire primary campaign trail so that he could go back to the Senate floor and vote himself a pay raise. Small potatoes, yes, but it speaks volumes about his true priorities. It's always been about Joe and no one else.

 John Culmer

Mr Lieberman is a carpet bagger. He has no loyalty to anyone ,except himself.

If he does not want to a be Democrat,he should say so and lose his job as CHAIRMAN OF THE HOMELAND SECURITY .NOW

If anything, the Homeland is more secure with "turncoats" like Lieberman OUT of office . NOW. Wouldn't it be nice if he LOST his health care Insurance , as well. !!

Someone should publish ,in large print ,EXACTLY how much and from whom ALL politicians received in contributions,from big business ,including Health Care Insurance companies. I won't hold my breath .....



USA! USA! We're number 37 in world healthcare rankings!!! Maybe Lieberman likes it between Slovenia and Costa Rica! What if our military, or even our Olympic teams were 37th in the world? I've got an idea for selling the public option... let's take pride in our country, be patriots, support our government and our president and be number 1!

Worley Thorne

Lieberman is a disgrace.

The only question in my mind is: did the big insurance company payoff come already - or will it be after Lieberman leaves the Senate?

Either way I hope he's caught, prosecuted and spends his reitrement in jail.

Eric Bressler

I'd give Weepin' Joe more credence for his stand if he wasn't such a liar. There are numerous video clips of him during the election spouting about how important universal coverage is and how he'd work to get it for every American.
He won't end up working for one of the insurance giants, that's too small potatoes for Weepin' Joe. He'll end up as the head of AHIP and will continue to sell out the American public for his 30 pieces of silver.

James McDouglas

Joe just did more damage to the Jewish community and the safety of Israel than Bernie Madoff and Avigdor Lieberman combined.

The more America hates Joe Lieberman (and boy do they ever hate him now), the more they hate Israel.

Joe just did more to boost the goals of anti-Israel Americans in pulling out of the mideast and letting Israel fend for itself than anyone could have hoped for.

Some might say thanks to Joe Lieberman for reminding a lot of Americans why they dislike him and everything he stands for so fervently.


I wish Obama had scraped off this leech when he had the chance! Now the leech is drawing blood...

jim sisco

Public housing (projects) are not-for-profit, yet, would anyone truly want to live there, are they not a haven for crime, disrepair and ridicule? It's silly to think that gov't competition in private enterprise is going to encourage a better system, with all the mandates that accompany gov't intervention expect your premiums to skyrocket, your choices nullified, care lowered, wait times increased. There is no question that common usage enterprises such as roads, security, regulations are necessary, even beneficial to the overall good, but, some things are best left apart from further bureaucracy. To echo another comment, why is there such a rush to get this enacted now? Certainly it would be in everyone's best interest to get it right, if indeed that is the main agenda, though I think it is all about creating more power than anything, because there are other reforms that accomplish lowering costs and extending insurance to many more Americans without resorting to a complete takeover. Since the author of this opinion piece seems to know the future (Joe's future employers), maybe she can tell us how it will all turn out, lol.

Tim Bieniek

I think it is great that Joe is standing up to these power hungry Democrats. They want us to have the same health care system as they have in Canada and England. Those people are rushing here to get the best health care available in the world. Greed? The insurance people are operating on a 2 per cent margin. Medicare? Doctors are opting out of the system because the government won't pay them for their services. I hope you government option folks will at least insist on the Congress and government officials be required to be on it as well. (Not likely!)

mike n.

Mr. Lieberman sucks. He suck up to Republicans.
He suck to to the Big insurance companies in his state.
...by the way he's not a democrat, he's an independent sucker.

Jon Healey

@John Culmer -- Go to OpenSecrets.com, it breaks down contributions from businesses, unions and other interest groups to each federal office holder and candidate.

brent w

Could the Times find a more moronic writer, I guess the layoffs have left the bldg devoid of journalist and only left high school level writers. 'Americans will have to purchase insurance from the dozens and dozens of different insurance companies, but there will be no competition' huh. Any proof or indication that Sen Joe will go to an insurance company, no just the writers extraordinary ESP into the matter. My favorite, because he's not running he doesnt really care, opposite of the other senators and congressfolks who are always reaching for campaign money from special interest and are directed to follow the party line or else. More times drivel. Keep it up your paper is prospering, right.


Hey Joe from Connecticut, do you not understand that the public option is actually, say it with me now, a more free market option, than complicated legislation designed to break up monopolies through complex systems of limitations? Or that subsidizing catastrophic coverage for the poor is just another way to give insurance companies more money? With the public option, the government will not be able to run a health care system at below the cost of operation, and therefore will be giving an economically efficient alternative to an industry characterized by oligopoly. With competition ( a free market concept, mind you), the insurance companies will have to lessen the costs (now horrifically inflated) of their minimum coverage plans, while still being able to make money from the more Cadillac insurance policies. And if you, as most conservatives do, maintain that private industry implicitly functions more efficiently than government, than the insurance industry should do fine against a government run program, right? So what, again, is the problem with the public option?


Just one thing wrong with your comments about Medicare. !. They turn down more coverage than any private insurance company in America...and they are broke. Billions of dollars of debt. Now, take 500 Billion-with a B- from this broken program-over 10 years and I think that you may be able to see what will happen.
What else can you point to that the government runs that works? And if it works is it fiscally sound? Don't talk about change until we pay for what we do now. While our govt is busy printing money to bail out everyone...our dollar contiues to decline and our stability gets drawn into question. Don't kid yourself-get ready to pay big for the earlier handouts: Cash for Clunkers, Homebuyers tax rebate of up to 8000.00. 750 Billion that Bush got talked into and another 800 Billion or so give or take a 100 Billion. You and I will be paying for that, and our children and ther children. They've stepped in it big time and looking for someone to blame. Joe just happens to be gutsy enough to step up and so NO.


Check out Today's Question at http://www.foxnews.com/politics/index.html - 81% of (currently) 11,572 people are IN FAVOR of the public option being in the senate health care bill. Either more people support the public option than the republicans claim, or there are a lot of illiterate people responding to that poll.


Saying that the government should compete with insurance companies is profoundly naive.

Why stop with insurance companies. How about affordable cars by government auto companies, affordable news by a government paper, affordable legal care by a government law firm. Why stop with insurance when the sky's the limit.

Just because socialism has failed every time it's been tried doesn't mean socialism will fail here in the United States. Let's give socialism a try because now we have the right people in charge. You can't get much better than a deity as president and having a Messiah running the show is a once in a lifetime chance to get it right. Come on LA Times, lead the way to the glorious path of socialism.


Good for Joe. At least there is one senator with some cajones to stand up to those in lockstep with Pelosi-Reid and the other guy.


I suppose its possible that Connecticut may favor the public option but is it accurate to say that most people in the country as a whole support it? I think you may be mistaken, Lisa. Why not provide a poll result or two to support your assertion?


Remember Fredo from the Godfather?
Thats Lieberman
Oh and not that Obama is the Messiah
But Judas also fits

Kole Steubing

'In Defense of Joe Lieberman'? What does he need defending? I say good job standing up for your principles, Joe. That's very much a rarity nowadays...

Kath from Penna.

Thank you for this fantastic piece!

andrew nelson

Obviously, the 50% of voters who don't pay taxes, anyway, are going to agree with your expansive charity with other people's money, Lisa. It's a false virtue, though, and their gratitude doesn't extend to paying a subscription for this paper. You just lost another subscription, from one of the other 50% that has to pay the taxes to make you popular by giving away my money. Let's see if you keep your job that way.


Did I miss the memo? Apparently the Democrats have fixed Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, balanced the budget and returned us to a surplus. Because you'd have to be a damned fool to give the government something else to screw up without making them fix these first.

Here's an idea, one comprehensive bill to accomplish all of this, step by step, with health care being dependent on all the others taken care of. Any takers, Mr. Reid?

Tom Bates

DON'T YOU PEOPLE UNDERSTAND? The radical Liberals Obama, Reid Pelosi know what is best for you ! You are not allowed to question their decisions or their Czar. You have to do what they say, with no recourse!
This government program is going to take over your life, control how you try to fight disease whether you like it or not.

In addition to this you are going to be required to pay for other people who can't pay for health care (and are not even citizens) thus limit the medical procedures that could save your life or your loved one!

The last time the government had this control over the American people was the draft! That was the last time they could dictate their wishes to me !

I don't want the Health Care program! I will take care of myself! This is not the governments job! You will be fined if you don't join the Health Care program ! The IRS will take money from your Bank, Savings & Loan, Social Security or where ever they can get a hold of it! I refuse to pay for other people who don't have insurance! Let them get a job and pay for their own insurance.
I makes me want to go out and buy a gun and shoot these people in the butt to get their attention. Until then they can all go home or the White House and practice the fine art of self insemination!

This writer is really dumb!!!

doug wallick

Joe Lieberman is either a simpleton or a Putz, probably both!
(In my opinion.)
Doug Wallick

Robert M

Lieberman a stand-up guy??? Not even in jest. What is so "stand-up" about a guy who loses the primaries and decides to run as an independent? That's not a "stand-up" guy, that's a guy who wants it his way or no way at all. And don't call him principled either. If he was "principled", he would have quit the Democratic Party and become a full blown Republican during this last election. After all, he obviously thought the Republican Party - and their candidates - stood for all the things he seems to stand for nowadays. He also should have caucused with them also, even at the cost of giving up his Chair.
Lieberman is nothing but a turncoat, a man solely interested in benefiting himself. Why is he not running for office again? Because he knows he would lose this time around. Connecticut will not make the mistake of sending a wolf-in-sheep's clothing back to represent them.
But, I'm glad he's causing waves for the democrats. They too were a bunch of greedy idiots when they allowed him to caucus with them and keep his Chairmanship. They created this monster, who should have been ostracized long ago. He should have been the Republicans' problem.

Bob Kaz

Joe has more sense and integrity in his little finger than Lisa has in her whole body. You should expect such thinking from the land of pelosi.


I think it's true that most people on medicare are happy and why shouldn't they be? They have a system that is paying out more than it takes in! There are trillions in unfunded liabilities to medicare. Why would anyone want to strap our kids with another program like that? These aren't problems that medicare will have because of the baby boom (common argument). They're problems medicare has right now! The cost of medicare is going up like the cost of everything else in medicine and this is a monopolistic system the government has complete control of! If people were happy with it and it were financially sound, I think it would be a whole different picture, but it is totally irresponsible to add another government program in the mold of one which is unsustainable. There are much better solutions.

Ona a side note, I can tell you I deal with government health care every day and it is BY FAR the most inefficient and backwards part of what I do (the one exception I guess is Tricare which is completely government run as opposed to medicare which is just government insured).

Jeanette Bishop

Joe Lieberman, you are shameful! You care nothing about this country nor the people in it. Aren't you proud of yourself to have all this power. I guess we are fortunate that Al Gore didn't get elected president; much to my disappointment. You would have been there like another Dick Cheney. What has this country come to? I never dreamed that even you could have such a lack of caring.

Jeanette Bishop


Joe Lieberman, you are the perfect example of greed without shame. I see no need for your kind. The only reason to deny health care reform is cash. Cash in your pocket. I pity you and those who have to live with you. May god help you.


Lieberman is a soulless tool. Whatever it is he holds sacred in this world, it sure isn't life, or justice, or peace.

S Lanier

Ha! A new Facebook group -- "Loathing Lieberman" already formed and growing: http://bit.ly/loathinglieberman

Bill from Connecticut

Or rather the truth of the matter is, Joe Lieberman's wife works as a powerful lobbyist for the insurance industry. Yet one more time Joe is worried about Joe and not the people of Connecticut, or the rest of the country. He is not a stand up guy. He is a pathetic little man that turns on his own repeatedly to serve his own interests. He is a disgusting human being who should just disappear.

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