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Lieberman Says No to Public Option Path to Single-Payer

John on December 5, 2009 at 11:01 am

Saw this on Hot Air headlines this morning. It’s interesting because it reinforces the audio clip I posted a few weeks ago. But it’s also interesting because it offers some private insight into the Democrats reasoning for the public option:

When Mr. Lieberman says no public option, he means no public option—not an “opt-in” or an “opt out” or a “trigger” (a public option only comes into effect if private insurers fail to spread enough coverage). “We are at the point now where this has become the classic legislative process of trying to get a fig leaf that everyone can hide behind. And I don’t want to do that.”

Why is he adamant? Mr. Lieberman says that while he is not “a conspiratorial person,” he believes the public option is intended as a way for the government to take over health care. “I’ve been working for health-care reform in different ways since I arrived here,” he says. “It was always about how do we make the system more efficient and less costly, and how do we expand coverage to people who can’t afford it, and how do we adopt some consumer protections from the insurance companies . . . So where did this public option come from?” It was barely a blip, he says, in last year’s presidential campaign.

“I started to ask some of my colleagues in the Democratic caucus, privately, and two of them said “some in our caucus, and some outside in interest groups, after the president won such a great victory and there were more Democrats in the Senate and the House, said this is the moment to go for single payer.’” So, I joke, the senator is, in fact, as big a “conspiracy theorist” as me. He laughingly rejoins: “But I have evidence!”

Mr. Lieberman notes that the public option serves no other purpose: “It doesn’t help one poor person get insurance who doesn’t have it now. It doesn’t compel one insurance company to provide insurance to somebody who has an illness. And . . . it doesn’t do anything to reduce the cost of insurance.”

I know what a dead horse this is for regular readers and I really am sorry about that. Outside of the Journal, the press will not touch it. With two or three weeks to go and the entire bill riding on this issue you’d think it might warrant a mention in, say, the NY Times. With resistance to the public option the key point in the current wrangling over its passage, you’d think the Washington Post might take an interest in why it is so important to Democrats? But the Times, the Post and all their imitators flatly refuse to write one word about it.

For the record, we have privately contacted editors at the NY Times and shared the story with them weeks ago. We know they’re aware of it. But even though this is at the nexus of power in Washington at this moment and possibly the key to Obama’s political survival…they won’t so much as speak its name.

If there is a conspiracy here it’s the conspiracy of silence over what’s really driving support for the public option.

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Category: Health & Education |

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