Lieberman: ‘I Believe President Obama Never Said A Public Option Was Essential To The Reform Goals’

This evening, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) took to the Senate floor to “declare” his support for the health care bill and explain his opposition to the public option and the Medicare buy-in. Lieberman, who has previously insisted that the White House never pressured him to support the public plan, argued that the popular provision is “not necessary” and suggested that President Obama never advocated on its behalf:

The creation of a new government-run health care, so-called public option or the expansion of Medicare to people under 65 is not necessary. Neither proposal would extend coverage to one person who will not be benefited by the new provisions of this bill….I believe President Obama never said a public option was essential to the reform goals he set out to achieve and that most of us have. When the president spoke earlier this year to the joint session of Congress, he said that a public option is, and I quote — ‘an additional step we can take’ end quote. An additional step, he said, but not an essential one. And then he added, and I quote again — ‘the public option is only a means to that end’ end quote. And concluded that we should remain, and I quote again — ‘open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.’

Watch a compilation of Lieberman’s speech:

During his address, Lieberman delighted — without the slightest hint of irony — in the fact that the Senate bill would expand coverage to “31 million more Americans.” “We say that so often, I think we forget the power of it,” he said. “Thirty-one million people who don’t have health insurance today will have it after this bill passes. That is a giant step forward for our society.”

Lieberman also warned against changing the Senate bill in conference. “This bill as it appears it will emerge from the Senate is delicately balanced,” he said. “I hope there will be no attempt to reinsert a so-called public option in any form in the conference report. That would mean that I would not be able to support the report, and I want to support it.”