Joe Lieberman said today that if the health care bill brought to the Senate floor contains a public option he will vote no.
Stubborn, he means, in opposing any health-care overhaul that includes a “public option,” or government-run health-insurance plan, as the current bill does. His opposition is strong enough that Mr. Lieberman says he won’t vote to let a bill come to a final vote if a public option is included.
Probe for a catch or caveat in that opposition, and none is visible. Can he support a public option if states could opt out of the plan, as the current bill provides? “The answer is no,” he says in an interview from his Senate office. “I feel very strongly about this.” How about a trigger, a mechanism for including a public option along with a provision saying it won’t be used unless private insurance plans aren’t spreading coverage far and fast enough? No again.
So that’s a no vote for any public option “compromise” as well. I’ve always said that I think if any public option passes it will be in the form of a trigger option, but if Lieberman isn’t on board the democrats are going to have a tough time getting the votes to get the bill through.
Meanwhile the democrats are in a catch-22 on health care. New polling shows that if they don’t pass health care reform they stand to lose the midterm elections, however if they do pass health care reform, well, they stand to lose the midterm elections.
Our newest national survey finds that Democrats lead 46-38 on the generic Congressional ballot. But asked how they would vote if no health care bill is passed respondents split 40-40 between saying they would vote Democratic or Republican in next year’s election.
In some sense the Democrats may be in a damned if you don’t or damned if you do position on health care. Asked how they would vote for Congress next year if a health care bill with a public option is passed respondents said they would go Democratic by a 46-41 margin, still more narrow than before any hypotheticals about health care outcomes were introduced into the questions.
I don’t think it’s the idea of health care reform that is souring voters, I think it’s how it’s been handled. We haven’t had televised discussions on the subject, despite Obama’s promise. The public has not had several days to review the bill before it went to a vote, like Pelosi promised. The House created a huge bill (well over a thousand pages) and then jammed in through on a vote before it was even possible for a member to read it (let alone the public).
The Senate is following suit, although they have rules that will at least provide for debate. Even then Harry Reid had the bill, at over 2,000 pages, and had a vote to open debate on it within a few days.
Meanwhile this whole process extends back to August. We know this is going to take time Congress, we’d rather you do it right than do it fast. That’s speaking for the country, personally I’d rather them not do it at all, but I think the independents, who are lukewarm on the idea, are turning against the health care plan because of how secretive and selective the whole process has been.
It’s funny, just over a year ago health care was the headlining issue for the DNC, it was the one issue that most people could back them on, now it looks like it will be the death of a few senators and congressmen.