Sen. Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., said on Oct. 27 that he would filibuster Democratic Senator Harry Reid’s health care reform bill if it included a government-run insurance plan, or public option.
For the politically uninterested, this fact might be irrelevant. But Lieberman has essentially been the key to passing President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill. A two-thirds vote is required for it to pass, which means 60 of the 100 members of the Senate would have to approve it. Lieberman is number 60.
Lieberman is known by some in Congress as an unpredictable voter. After all, he’s the only declared Independent in Congress, and he regularly leads Democrats to think he will vote with them, only to vote how he sees fit.
In short, Lieberman votes and acts independently, as he should.
In confusing political times like these, it is encouraging to see that a congressmen is voting as Americans should – based on personal conscience.
The United States political system is primarily comprised of two parties that some will call polarized and others will call anything but. However, the American people are hungry for third parties, as shown by Libertarian Senator Ron Paul’s, R-Texas, strong support in the 2008 presidential election.
Furthermore, Lieberman’s reason for opposing the bill makes sense. According to a politico.com report, Lieberman said he would oppose the bill “even with an opt-out because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.”
Americans know about the current economic struggles. A public option would require Americans to pay even more taxes than they already do, which would not only be unfair to the people, but unrealistic for the country.
Lieberman also said, according to the Politico report, that he wanted to vote for health care reform, but knew it would increase our federal debt. Lieberman said in the report that we are in an economic recovery, which requires financial caution.
Lieberman has a plan, too. He wants to give the plan a bit of time before re-evaluating the need for another entitlement.
Democrats might think Lieberman is crazy simply because his decision comes at an inopportune moment. Obama has said that he would like to address the health care issue by the end of the year. That gives Congress less than two months to figure out what the plan is if they are going to meet the president’s deadline.
Plus, Lieberman is known for being socially liberal. He just has to vote for health care, liberal Democrats would say.
But Lieberman’s stance against health care based on its lack of fiscal rationality is admirable. In doing so, Lieberman is accurately representing the “I” after his name.
Voting in Congress is more important than the American popular vote, but Americans can learn a lesson from Lieberman’s decision. They could do a better job at voting on conscience like Lieberman did in this situation.
And when the individual considers his or her opinion on health care reform, he or she should take into consideration the points Lieberman made. Maybe he is making a departure from his political habits for the sake of the U.S. budget and not just for personal publicity.
Wyatt Kanyer is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Yakima, Wash.