Monday, December 14, 2009

Sen. Joe Lieberman

With one single Sunday Talk Show appearance Sen. Lieberman has raised a political storm. Looking at the fierce reactions from Ezra Klein, Matt Yeglesias, Daily Kos, Huffington Post and many other bastions of Liberal netroots as well as Ezra’s scuffle with WaPo establishment - editorial board member Chuck Lane; it is clear that this story has legs.

True, we are not talking here re-election of Lieberman since he is unlikely to seek that. There may not be obvious political ramifications of this, but sense is that this particular incident – wanton behavior by a Senator to kill Health Care Reform for the sake of it without any serious policy objections – will be remembered long and there will be consequences of it.

To start with it will not be simple for White House to say Sen. Reid to compromise with Sen. Lieberman after the strong reaction from the Liberal base. It is clear that there are no serious policy objections from Sen. Lieberman since he is all over policy map. As the viral video shows (Greg Sargent of The Plum Line); same Sen. Lieberman endorsed the particular policy he is opposing now – buy in Medicare for folks older than 55 years. If Sen. Lieberman opposed these policies, he should not have agreed to Sen. Reid in the first place for the Medicare buy-in.

Next, Democrats in Senate will be more inclined to accept compromise with Sen. Ben Nelson, Sen. Olympia Snowe than with Sen. Lieberman. This means either abortion amendment of Sen. Nelson is in or public option becomes a trigger as wanted by Sen. Snowe; or both.

Further, Dems will also evaluate the possibility of ‘reconciliation’ which White House does not favor since it will involve de-assembling of the whole bill into ‘passable components’ one at a time.

Finally, public pressure to consider ‘filibuster’ procedural reforms will keep on increasing. Not sure whether it will translate into any concrete change the way dysfunctional Senate works, but the chances of procedural reforms increase with such intransigent behavior by few Senators.

All in all this is a typical and clear demonstration of how American Senate is broken and petty politics by few Senators essentially destroys well being of all Americans.

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