The view of Ezra Klein, Paul Krugman, and other leftists that Joe Lieberman opposed the public option and the expansion of Medicare in order to “settle an old electoral score” appears to be based on the claim that in September of this year, Lieberman supported the Medicare expansion. In other words, so Lieberman’s critics say, he was for the expansion before he was against it.
This is an odd argument on its face. Lieberman’s “electoral score” is, indeed, old; it dates back to 2006. So if he were basing his positions on health care reform on a desire to settle that score, he would be unlikely to speak in favor of Medicare expansion in September 2009. Indeed, if Lieberman were out for vengeance, he would be unlikely to support the Democrats’ landmark plan even absent the public option and the expansion of Medicare. Yet, it appears that Lieberman will provide a key vote in favor of reform, just as he consistently has provided it on other major issues this session.
In any event, the claim that there’s an inconsistency between Lieberman’s September position on Medicare expansion and his current position appears to be specious. As explained here, in September Lieberman talked about why, in the past, he has considered Medicare expansion a good idea. In the context of the current legislation, though, Lieberman sees the expansion as duplicative. In his view, the insurance exchanges called for in the current bill already address the problems that the Medicare buy-in is trying to solve. In other words, Lieberman believes coverage is already being given to the groups in question through the subsidies in the bill, and thus sees insufficient justification for the Medicare expansion.
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