Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Show Joe The Door

Although technically an independent since the 2006 election, Joe Lieberman has continued to caucus with Senate Democrats. He has even been allowed to retain his chairmanship of the Homeland Security Committee. In return for those privileges, one might rightfully presume Joe would support the Democratic leadership on Senate procedural matters. Not so. On at least two recent occasions, Senator Lieberman has publicly announced that unless the health reform bill was changed to his liking, he would join a Republican filibuster and kill the bill. In the Senate, sixty votes are required to overcome a filibuster, and the Democratic caucus has exactly sixty members. The Republicans are united in unanimous opposition to the health reform bill.

The first filibuster threat was made against the "public option," which despite being favorably scored by the CBO was nevertheless denounced by Lieberman as a budget buster. Joe knows best. The public option was consequently removed from the bill.

Now the good senator is insisting that the Medicare buy-in compromise, which replaced the public option, be removed as well—again under pain of filibuster. Remarkably, Lieberman has a long record of advocating just such a buy-in, and has spoken favorably about the idea as recently as three months ago. But apparently he could not bear that health reform progressives were delighted with the compromise, and so he had a sudden change of heart.

This is past being intolerable. There is no point of coddling Joe Lieberman in the Democratic caucus if he can't even be depended upon to vote for cloture on a bill that's favored by the vast majority of Senate Democrats. Certainly he should vote his conscience on the bill itself, but denying cloture is unconscionable.

Democrats should strip Senator Lieberman of his chairmanship. Then they should boot him out the door and—as befits someone who is behaving like a prick—tell him to go "caucus" with himself.

Copyright (C) 2009 James Michael Brennan, All Rights Reserved