In December of last year, after Democrats agreed to drop the public option and the Medicare buy-in provision from the Senate health care bill, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) took to the Senate floor to “declare” his support for the legislation. “The fact is,” Lieberman explained, “31 million more Americans will be able to have health insurance as a result of this legislation.” “That is a giant step forward for our society.” Lieberman praised the “insurance market reforms in this bill” and emphasized his desire to “support” the final conference report.
But today, during an appearance on Fox New’s Your World with Neil Cavuto, Lieberman refused to defend this “giant step forward for our society.” Without explicitly criticizing the Senate legislation, Lieberman said that the close election polls in Massachusetts demonstrated that Americans are “skeptical about this health care bill” and “unhappy about what’s happening in Washington”:
I think we’re at a point where there’s not a single Republican who really will vote for this bill as it is now or as it was moving to be in the conference committee. So this is going to be a loud message from Massachusetts and whether it’s right or wrong, I was impressed again by one of the national polls I saw yesterday that said two things. One is, opposition to the health care reform is very large among independents, unregistered with the party voters. And you know, Massachusetts is thought of as a blue state, it generally does vote Democratic but almost 50 percent of the voters there are unaffiliated so they got the liberty to move back and forth and they’re moving obviously now.
Lieberman’s effort to align with “independents” and distance himself from “what’s happening in Washington” is highly disingenuous. After all, the Senator ignored the wishes of his constituents — who had approved a statewide public health insurance system with a public option in 2009 — and vowed to filibuster any reform bill that included a public plan or a Medicare buy-in for younger Americans. His refusal to compromise with Democrats stripped the Senate bill of its most popular provisions.
Today, Lieberman is paying the price for orchestrating much of “what’s happening in Washington.” According to a recent survey from Public Policy Polling, Lieberman has alienated Democrats, Republicans and independents and his approval rating stands at just 25 percent. Fifty-nine percent of Connecticut independents and 55 percent of Republicans oppose the senator. During his interview with Cavuto, Lieberman did not dismiss the possibility of switching parties if the GOP takes control of Congress after the midterm elections.