Emanuel’s Deal with Lieberman: Another Step Down the Road to Tepid Health Care Reform

It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Harry Reid’s Medicare buy-in scheme would be DOA in the political mud of Washington. Still, that Rahm Emanuel would surface to order the Senate to cut a deal with  perennial spoiler Joe Lieberman, as Politico this morning reports, just confirms the snake oil salesman has been at the heart of this entire creeped-out process. Politico reports:

 Lieberman threw health care reform into doubt Sunday when he told Reid that he would filibuster the bill if it allowed Americans ages 55 to 64 to purchase coverage in Medicare. His comments on CBS’s “Face the Nation” set off a series of private meetings Sunday between the Senate leadership and top White House aides, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who encouraged Reid to cut the deal with Lieberman, the official said. The White House declined to comment.

The idea that Joe Lieberman could singlehandedly block the big health care reform bill with a filibuster announced on a Sunday morning talk show is pretty preposterous. Everyone knows Lieberman is a spoiler and that  he will change his position at the drop of a hat—anything to enhance his political position. Emanuel is using him as a foil. 

The political strategy for winning  the  timid health care reform now on the table  has depended from the beginning on Obama encouraging liberals by signalling  his backing for a public option or some co-op look-alike, thus laying out some raw red meat to be attacked by Dick Armey’s camp. Then as opposition mounts to rampant socialism, the Dems back down in seeming “compromise’’ or abject “defeat’’—take your pick–allowing the center right Democrats in the Senate to push ahead to victory with one or two Republicans in tow. 

Remember, from the very beginning Obama never committed himself to any specific form of legislation; he only said that he wanted some kind of a health reform bill. And sooner or later, that’s what we’ll get.

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