Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Really? Gibbs Says Obama Demanded Lieberman Make Compromises Too

Joe Lieberman's opposition to the public plan and Medicare buy-in options led to the removal of these provisions from pending healthcare reform measures. Several news sources have reported that the White House instructed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to delete the measures in order to appease Lieberman. Facing criticism and questions from liberals regarding President Obama's stance toward Lieberman, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president has demanded that Lieberman make compromises as well:
Asked if Obama is as demanding of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn), whose opposition to a public option and Medicare buy-in provision led to their removal, as he has been of progressives like Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), both staunch supporters of a public plan, Gibbs affirmatively replied: "Yes."

"The president was clear with members of the democratic caucus, including independents who caucus with the Democrats," he said.
Several commentators, myself included, view this statement with skepticism. Sam Stein of the Huffington Post, for example, argues that:
[Gibbs'] depiction of the legislative process would likely come as a surprise to liberals both in and outside of office, many of whom point to the various, watered-down versions of reform to which they agreed in hopes of winning Lieberman's vote. One of those liberals, former DNC Chair Howard Dean, said on Tuesday that the leadership had acquiesced too much to win moderate votes and called on the party to "kill the bill."
MY TAKE: Unless Lieberman wanted to privatize Medicare and Medicaid and begin a new war in the Middle East, it is unclear what legislative compromises he has recently made.

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