In August, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told CNN that he believed it was the wrong time for President Obama and Congress to attempt health care reform. “I’m afraid we’ve got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy is out of recession,” said Lieberman. “There’s no reason we have to do it all now.”
Asked by radio host Don Imus today what aspects of the Senate Finance Committee’s health care bill he supported, Lieberman struck a negative tone, saying, “I’m concerned that there’s a danger that we’re trying to do too much”:
LIEBERMAN: I’ve been saying for a couple of months now that I’m concerned, that I’m concerned that there’s a danger that we’re trying to do too much here and the president is trying to do two good things. But doing them at once in the middle of a recession may be hard to pull off. And the two good things are to bend the cost of health care down by changing a lot of the ways health care is delivered. The second thing is to cover some of the people, millions of people, who are not covered with insurance. So, this puts us in the position where you say, on the one hand, what we’re about to do in adopting health care reform will, will reduce the cost of health insurance from what it would otherwise be and the other hand you say, oh incidentally, we’re going to raise your taxes or cut your Medicare to the tune of $900 billion or a trillion. And people are beginning to think that maybe they’d do better holding on to what they have now.
Lieberman added that he thinks “we should really focus on what’s being called health care delivery reform.” Asked later by Imus if he specifically supported Sen. Max Baucus’ (D-MT) health care reform bill, Lieberman said, “no”:
IMUS: Do you support the Baucus bill?
LIEBERMAN: Not, not, no. I mean, not the way it is now.
IMUS: Ok, what about it don’t you like?
LIEBERMAN: Well, here’s my concern, as I watch the way it took shape. And it goes back to these two things we’re trying to do at once. I’m afraid that in the end, the Baucus bill is actually going to raise the price of insurance for most of the people in the country because most of the people in our country have health insurance, either private or Medicare or Medicaid or veteran’s benefits.
Though Lieberman said he didn’t necessarily “buy” the “exact numbers” released yesterday by the insurance industry, he supported their disingenuous argument that reform will increase insurance premiums for all Americans. “You don’t have to be an economist to figure out that if you raise people’s taxes, the company’s taxes by three or four hundred billion dollars, they’re not going to eat it themselves. They’re going to pass it on.”
The Wonk Room’s Igor Volsky rebuts Lieberman and the insurance industry’s argument about increased insurance premiums here.