There's no other conclusion possible. He announced to Harry Reid that he's filibustering health care reform because of the Medicare buy-in. This is something that he campaigned on in 2000. This is something he endorsed three months ago. And yet, now that Democrats have included it in their bill, he's suddenly decided he can't stand it.
There's really only one explanation possible:
To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill's failure that much more. And if there's a policy rationale here, it's not apparent to me, or to others who've interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.And so, here we are, with very few options for passing decent reform, all because Joe wants to feel relevant and fuck over his former colleagues. Steve Benen said it best:
It's the leverage trump-card dynamic that's been apparent throughout the debate -- the left doesn't want reform to fail; the right doesn't care. The left knows that if reform falls apart, thousands will die and millions will struggle. The right knows the same thing, but is indifferent to preventing such a scenario.
For the left, failure is not an option, because the human, political, economic, and fiscal consequences are too severe. For the right, failure is entirely acceptable, if not preferable. Both sides know what the other side is thinking.
The result is less of a negotiation and more of a hostage standoff, with Joe Lieberman playing the role of the proverbial gunman who isn't bluffing. If progressive Dems refuse to pay the ransom, Lieberman pulls the trigger and we get to spend the next decade arguing over who's to blame for what happened, while the systemic problems get worse, the human suffering expands, and the status quo bankrupts businesses, states, and the federal government.
And you know what the worst part is? It's not Holy Joe's propensity for stabbing people in the back. We all knew he was capable of it. It's the fact that instead of taking the knife away, the White House and Reid seem not only interested in letting him keep his knife, but giving in to his demands. Somehow, they believe that a sociopath like Lieberman can be negotiated with.
Newsflash: he can't. Give in on this, and he'll think of something else that makes him want to filibuster. Digby's right:
Here's what needs to happen.Since a Lieberman bill is unlikely to stop at the gutting of the Public Option, Medicare buy-in and the CLASS Act (he will in all likelihood insist on cuts to the subsidies and Medicaid expansion as well) it's finally possible for me to see a bunch of Democrats voting against health care reform. After all, it would no longer be a Democratic bill and it's no longer an Obama bill. They will be asked to vote for a Lieberman Republican bill and that isn't so difficult. And since no Republicans will vote even for a Lieberman bill, the bill dies. That leaves reconciliation which I'm sorry to say probably requires more guts than the Democrats and the White House have.
Now, mind you, I understand why Reid doesn't want to go for reconciliation. Steve Benen laid out the pitfalls nicely:
So reconciliation is a poor substitute for passing a good bill outright, but here's the thing: it's a credible weapon. It could be used. It should be used if sociopathic foot-stompers like Lieberman and Nelson keep throwing tantrums.Reconciliation continues to bring its own complications, most notably months of additional delay (limiting Congress' ability to move on the rest of its agenda), the likelihood of having to break the bill apart, the unpredictable whims of the parliamentarian, the need to still get 60 votes on non-budget-related provisions, and the expiration date that comes with reconciliation (the notion of doing all of this again in 2015 is unappealing).
And so, what Reid needs to do is slam reconciliation down on the table. Then, if Cons and their good buddy Lieberman still insist on filibustering, by all means, force them to filibuster. Forget cloture. Forget cute little parliamentary procedures designed to overcome all that unpleasantness. Once Reid has reconciliation sitting front and center on the table as a nuclear option, he needs to explain to Lieberman and Co. that a filibuster will be just that: an opportunity for them to spend their Christmas holiday wearing diapers and reading the phone book on the Senate floor.
There has to be some point at which we say, "This far, no further." The Progressives in the House aren't ready to accept the Senate's bullshit, and have made that abundantly clear in a letter to Obama requesting a meeting. The American public's fed up. Do these fucktards realize that voters overwhelmingly support primaries against Dems who vote against the public option? Do they understand that 81% of Dems want to see Lieberman's ass kicked?
It's time to stop cowering in terror. Yes, reform must be passed. No, that does not mean quaking in terror and giving in to every demand Lieberman makes. Fuck Lieberman. Fuck the Cons - Michael Steele let slip that they're just there to stonewall, so fuck them. There are other options for getting this done. Even if they're not ideal options, they fucking well prove a point.
Reid: grow a fucking backbone. Rahm: butt the fuck out.
You've got the public behind you (except for the Teabaggers, who have an even more reflexive hatred of Dems than Lieberman does, so who the fuck cares what they think?). Go forth and kick some sociopathic ass.