Hmm, seems as though Harry Reid might not be able to sneak that public option into the Senate Finance Committee’s health bill after all–now that Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-independent from Connecticut says he’ll join any filibuster of a bill that contains the Medicare-for-everyone program beloved of progressives:
Mr. Lieberman says he fears the public option won’t be self-sustaining. “I think that a lot of people may think that the public option is free. It’s not,” Mr. Lieberman said. “It’s going to cost the taxpayers and people that have health insurance now, and if it doesn’t, it’s going to add terribly to our national debt.”
The Wall Street Journal editorializes:
Bravo, Joe. It’s a relief to see at least someone standing up to the Washington rush to rearrange 18% of the U.S. economy without carefully inspecting the cost and the consequences.
Mr. Lieberman added that he’d also oppose a bill that includes Mr. Reid’s provision for states to “opt-out” of the public program “because it still creates a whole new government entitlement program for which taxpayers will be on the line.” Exactly right again.
The opt-out language is a ruse designed to give the impression of political and consumer choice when it will provide none in practice. The many new mandates, regulations and taxes in Mr. Reid’s bill would so distort every state’s insurance market that premiums would rise fast in states that did opt-out, assuming private insurance was still available at all.
The WSJ thinks that Reid’s insistence on a public option may be a trial balloon cynically sent aloft to placate the left but with the hope that someone will puncture it, the idea being to make what’s left of the Finance Committee bill seem more appealing to Democratic moderates. Maybe so, but it’s still nice to see Lieberman take out his needle so promptly.