Ezra Klein of the Washington Post says that Joe Lieberman “seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.” It is this sentiment, I suppose, that gave rise to the vicious article about Senator Lieberman written by Lois Romano and Alec MacGillis that appeared on page 3 of the Post last week.
On the plus side, Klein is a blogger for the Post, not a reporter, so his attack is not being passed off as news.. On the minus side, Klein’s attack is stupid and dishonest.
First, Klein has no reasonable basis for believing that, in the absence of any particular piece of health care legislation, hundreds of thousands of people will die. As Michael Cannon shows, the relationship between health insurance and health has been studied extensively and the results are inconclusive.
Second, Klein has no idea whether Lieberman’s opposition to the public option and to Medicare expansion stems from the desire to settle an old electoral score. Maybe he simply believes, as other centrist members of Congress do, that these proposals are unwise. If Lieberman’s opposition is motivated by “score settling,” then why has he voted with his party on other key issues such as the stimulus bill?
Third, Lieberman seems fully prepared to support legislation that would dramatically expand the number of individuals with health insurance. So even if many deaths do result from people not having health insurance, it’s quite unfair to assert that Lieberman “seems willing to cause” this. One could just as easily accuse Harry Reid of being willing to cause a significant number of deaths to the extent that he has not yet produced a bill that can command the support of Lieberman and other Senators such as Olympia Snowe who are eager to expand coverage.
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