Joe Lieberman: The Progressive Who Lost His Way

Download a PDF of this report HERE.

“I’m a Democrat with a 35-year record of fighting for progressive causes, for the middle class, for civil rights, for women’s rights, for human rights and a lot more. I voted with my Senate Democratic colleagues 90 percent of the time.” — Joe Lieberman, 7/6/06

“I want Democrats to be back in the majority in Washington and elect a Democratic president in 2008.” — Joe Lieberman, 7/7/06

While Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has fought for progressive policies in the past — such as protecting the environment and expanding civil rights — his recent record demonstrates that he’s a progressive no more. As this report documents, Lieberman has embraced the right wing on far more than foreign policy. In fact, he has betrayed progressive principles on a variety of domestic issues. As he has lurched to the right, Lieberman has actively worked to undermine the progressive agenda.



Undermined Progressives — Domestic Policy

On Leading The Homeland Security Committee: ‘We Don’t Like Investigating.’ — On Energy: Drill Baby, Drill — On Taxes: ‘I Think It’s Wrong To Raise Any Taxes Now’ — On Health Care: Supported McCain’s Tax On Employer Health Care — On Social Security: ‘Individual Control…Has To Happen.’ — On Alberto Gonzales: He ‘Deserves Our Appreciation’  — On The Christian-Right: Defended Pastor Hagee — Campaigned Against Progressive Candidates

National Security

On Torture: ‘The Person Is In No Real Danger.’ — On Terrorism: Fear-mongering With The Radical Right. — On Iran: Bomb Iran — On Syria: Bomb Syria? — On Iraq: U.S. ‘Did The Right Thing’



On Leading The Homeland Security Committee: ‘We Don’t Like Investigating.’

On Energy: Drill Baby, Drill.

Called for increased offshore drilling: Echoing the Bush administration’s line, Lieberman said offshore oil drilling is a “sensible” way to “to try to lower prices.” Offshore drilling “would have a downward affect on oil futures.” He said, “I now view this kind of drilling as a bridge to the next chapter of our energy history.” [7/25/08]

Flashback: In 2005, Lieberman said we can’t “drill our way” out of the problem: “The second reason was that drilling for oil in ANWR perpetuates a dangerous myth, which is that we can drill our way out of dependence on foreign oil. We cannot.” [12/19/05]

On Taxes: ‘I Think It’s Wrong To Raise Any Taxes Now.’

Praised McCain’s pro-rich tax plan: “John McCain believes in tax cuts for business and individuals because when you’re in a recession, as we are, that’s one way to get us out of the hole,” he said. [10/6/08]Said McCain’s tax plan and health care plan is “good for the middle class”: “And in fact, you know, Senator Obama has really been spreading falsehoods about John regularly since then about his tax plans, about his health care plans, which are good for middle-class America,” he said. [10/6/08]

Criticized raising the capital gains tax: “Lieberman claimed that Obama would take a protectionist policy towards trade and raise capital gains taxes. Obama’s plan would hurt stocks and retirement plans even more, he said.” [10/24/08]

Opposed lifting the Bush tax cuts: “I think it’s wrong to raise any taxes now,” Lieberman said. [10/24/08]

On Health Care: Supported McCain’s Tax On Employer Health Care.

Defended McCain on health care. Lieberman declared that it is “not true” that the health care plan McCain put forward as a candidate for president will not do anything for those without health insurance. [8/03/08]

Opposed Requiring Access To Plan B For Rape Victims. Opposed requiring that publicly funded hospitals provide victims of rape with Plan B contraception, arguing that it just a “short ride” to get to another hospital. [3/13/06]

On Social Security: ‘Individual Control…Has To Happen.’

Defended McCain’s privatization plan: Lieberman falsely claimed that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) “is not for the private accounts to take the place of social security.” “He’s for what Bill Clinton used to call Social Security plus,” said Lieberman. [3/30/08]

Hinted at support for “private accounts” in 2005. Although Lieberman said “it’s important Social Security remain what it is,” a social insurance program that “provides a floor of income,” he would not rule out personal accounts. Lieberman added, “if we can figure out a way to help people through private accounts or something else, great.” [1/05]

Said we eventually will have “individual control” of Social Security: In a May 4, 1998, interview, Lieberman said “it doesn’t make sense” not to broaden the Social Security portfolio, and added, “Same is true of this idea of privatizing.” “I think in the end that individual control of part of the retirement/Social Security funds has to happen,” he told the Copley News Service. [5/4/1998]

On Alberto Gonzales: He ‘Deserves Our Appreciation.’

On The Christian-Right: Defended Pastor Hagee.

Lieberman defended radical pastor John Hagee: Last year, Pastor John Hagee stirred a controversy after referring to Catholicism as “The Great Whore.” When it was revealed that he also said that “Hitler was a hunter” sent by God to get “the Jewish people” to “come back to the land of Israel,” Lieberman defended Hagee, saying his comments were taken “out of context.” Lieberman spoke at Hagee’s Washington-Israel Summit in July and compared Hagee to Moses. Even McCain denounced Hagee’s comments. [7/29/08]

Campaigned Against Progressive Candidates.


On Torture: ‘The Person Is In No Real Danger.’

Refused to say whether waterboarding constituted torture: “It is not like putting burning coals on people’s bodies. The person is in no real danger. The impact is psychological,” Lieberman said of waterboarding. “You want to be able to use emergency tech to try to get the information out of that person.” [2/15/08]

Voted against banning waterboarding: [Senate Vote 22, 2/13/08]

Flashback: In 2006, Lieberman lauded “persistent, long-term questioning”: In 2006, Lieberman said that “the most effective way to get information from a suspect is persistent, long-term questioning. ‘If terrorists are tried and convicted of committing a terrorist act, they should be subject to the death penalty,’ he said.” [9/18/06]

On Terrorism: Fear-mongering With The Radical Right.

Lent His Name To Fear-mongering “Documentary” About Muslims And Terrorism: On the promotional site for a new right-wing “documentary” entitled, “The Third Jihad: Radical Islam’s Vision For America,” Lieberman is pictured as a “major player.” In the film Lieberman warns, “It is definitely here…there is a danger of understating the problem of homegrown Islamist terrorism.” [10/10/08]

On Iran: Bomb Iran.

On Syria: Bomb Syria?

Said victory in Iraq runs through Syria: In a Wall Street Journal op-ed last year, Lieberman wrote that the U.S. “road to victory” in Iraq goes through Damascus, and urges Congress to “send a clear and unambiguous message to the Syrian regime.” [8/20/07]

On Iraq: U.S. ‘Did The Right Thing.’