Bazooka Joe has struck again. Senator Joe Lieberman was a thorn in the side of the Democrats during the 2008 presidential campaign when he backed Republican John McCain instead of Barack Obama and now he's at it again.
Joe Lieberman said he would ultimately try and block a final floor vote on Harry Reid's merged Senate healthcare reform bill. The government run option is in this merged Senate bill but he doesn't like the public option in pretty much any form. He'll probably vote to let the debate come to the floor but down the line he is saying that he wants the public option done away with or he'll vote with Republicans to essentially filibuster the bill.
See a picture of Lieberman below:
What does this mean? Well, this is a big deal. Here's why. Let's do the math shall we? Harry Reid the Majority Leader needs 60 votes to bring this healthcare reform bill with the public option to the floor. Lieberman will probably allow that but Reid will eventually need another 60 to cut off debate and proceed to a vote. That's where Lieberman could be a major problem. There are 58 Democrats and 2 Independents. One of those Independents is Lieberman and if he's a no vote on this cloture motion (cutting off debate and voting on the bill) that leaves Democratic leadership with 59 votes. That won't do the trick. They need 60. Close only counts in horseshoes. Bottom line: they wouldn't have the votes at this point to to get a final vote on the bill. So the Democrats have problems. Now to make matters worse for them, they also need a few moderate Democrats to go along too. And so far moderate Senators like Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln aren't exactly doing cartwheels over the fact that Harry Reid included this government run option in the merged Senate bill. The majority leader is going to need to find at least one Republican to get to 60. The one Republican the Democrats have been courting all along, moderate Olympia Snowe, also doesn't like the current bill. As for trying to get another Republican? That's as likely as Glenn Beck becoming a Senior Advisor inside the Obama White House.
More from The Hill Newspaper here and a quick blurb below:
Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-Independent from Connecticut, said Tuesday that he will not vote for a healthcare reform bill that includes a government-run insurance plan.
This means that as things now stand, Democrats will not have enough votes to pass healthcare reform with a so-called public option unless Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) can pick up unexpected GOP votes.
Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), the only Republican to vote for the Senate Finance Committee’s healthcare bill, said Tueday that she would vote against bringing up a bill that included a government-run insurance program unless the implementation of such a program were set to a trigger.
Lieberman said he would vote with Reid and other Democrats on a motion to begin debate on a healthcare bill because he believes it is an important issue that needs to be considered. But he said he would not lend his support to an effort to cut off debate on a bill including a government-run insurance program.
Lieberman said he told Reid of his position in a recent conversation and that the leader “respected and understood.”
“We’re trying to do too much at once,” said Lieberman. “To put this government-created, government-run insurance company on top of everything else is just asking for trouble for the taxpayer, for the premium payer and for the national debt. I don’t think we need it now.”
Lieberman said he was not placated by allowing states to opt out of the public option “because it still creates a whole new federal government entitlement program, for which taxpayers will eventually be on the line.”