During an appearance on Face The Nation this morning, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) went out of his way to give the impression that the public option is the only thing stopping him from supporting healthcare reform. This was yet another lie from Lieberman on the issue of heathcare reform. Here is a look at some of his other false statements about healthcare reform.
When Lieberman was asked about a healthcare bill with a public option, he said, “I hope not. In other words I’m all for health care reform. It– it– we– we have a system that needs fixing but we’ve got some more urgent problems than that, and the first most urgent is to fix our economy, to get at creating jobs again, and I think that a public option will actually hurt the economic recovery and our long-term fiscal situation because it will end up causing the government to raise taxes, will probably raise premiums, or it will put us further into debt. You know the public option came out of nowhere. If you look at last year’s presidential campaign, Bob, no mention of it.”
He continued, “The goal has always been two goals. One is make health insurance more affordable and to extend it to people who don’t have it now. The public option I think was raised in the last year by people who really want to have a government-controlled health insurance system. That’s their right. I think they’re wrong but it’s not necessary, as President Obama has said over and over again, to achieve the goals that he has. So I– I hope it’s not in there at the end.”
Lieberman claims that healthcare reform will add to the federal debt, but according to the CBO analysis of the House bill, “According to CBO and JCT’s assessment, enacting H.R. 3962 would result in a net reduction in federal budget deficits of $104 billion over the 2010–2019 period (see Table 1). In the subsequent decade, the collective effect of its provisions would probably be slight reductions in federal budget deficits. Those estimates are all subject to substantial uncertainty.”
Instead of adding to the deficit, healthcare reform will actually reduce the deficit, so Lieberman is making a completely inaccurate claim. Notice that he also claims that the government will “probably” have to raise premiums. He has no information to back up that claim. It is only his own guess.
Lieberman’s claim that taxes will have to be increased is vague enough to possibility be true depending on how one defines a tax increase. If he is counting the tax on luxury plans as a tax increase then it is, but this is once again an incorrect way of viewing it, because currently those plans aren’t taxed, so it would be a new tax, not a tax increase. By calling it a tax increase, Lieberman is trying to give the impression that everyone’s taxes will go up. This is not true.
Lieberman goes on to equate the public option with a government takeover of healthcare. The public option is not designed to replace private insurance companies, but will exist to provide competition to help reduce costs. The public option will be available to a few people. It will also be restricted and subject to the same regulations as the private insurance industry. It is not a government takeover.
Sen. Lieberman’s biggest lie is that the public option was not mentioned during the 2008 presidential campaign. Here is how CNN described then candidate Obama’s healthcare proposal, “Would create a national health insurance program for individuals who do not have employer-provided health care and who do not qualify for other existing federal programs. Does not mandate individual coverage for all Americans, but requires coverage for all children. Allows individuals below age 25 to be covered through their parents’ plans. Allows individuals to choose between the new public insurance program and private insurance plans that meet certain coverage standards.”
The public health insurance program was in the Obama campaign’s healthcare reform proposal, so Lieberman’s phony surprise at its existence is not very believable. There is a great deal of speculation that Lieberman is pulling a power play on healthcare because he is looking to drum up Republican support for his 2012 reelection bid.
Other commentators think that Lieberman is looking to cut a deal for his vote in order to help several other non-healthcare bills that he has in the pipeline, but no matter what his motivations really are, Lieberman is not being honest about healthcare reform. There is a difference between a conservative and a right wing propagandist. With his statements today, Lieberman was doing nothing but spreading anti-healthcare reform propaganda.