“I’m afraid we’ve got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy’s out of recession,” Lieberman said. “There’s no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started. And I think the place to start is cost health delivery reform and insurance market reforms.”
Lieberman may be trying to counter the possibility that Democrats would abandon the White House’s goal of bipartisan support for healthcare reform. Democrats have 60 votes in the Senate, enough to overcome a filibuster and force a vote. “I think it’s a real mistake to try to jam through the total health insurance reform, health care reform plan that the public is either opposed to or of very, very passionate mixed minds about,” Lieberman said.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has mentioned that Democrats might consider using whatever voting tactics were necessary to pass legislation by the end of this year if Republicans don’t cooperate more with a bipartisan bill. But Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) thinks this could backfire: “The American people will be very troubled by a single political party’s ‘my way or the highway’ attitude to overhauling their health care, especially when it means government-run health care, new taxes on small businesses, and Medicare cuts for seniors.”
McConnell stated that Republicans want to start from the beginning again “with a genuine bipartisan approach.” Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) agreed that bringing up the health care situation “in the midst of recession, the unemployment problems … was a mistake.” He added, “For the moment, let’s clear the deck and try it again next year or in subsequent times.”
Democrats may be feeling the absence of one of their key members, the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who passed away due to cancer on August 25. Kennedy was a major backer of healthcare reform, and both Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) believe he would have contributed to achieving a compromise. “He had a unique way of sitting down with the parties at a table and making the right concessions, which really are the essence of successful negotiations,” McCain said.
Undoubtedly Senator Kennedy received the best healthcare available as he waged his final battle. All Americans could receive the same if our current government-regulated managed-care system were dismantled and a true free market for healthcare was once again allowed to function without interference. This is the kind of reform that no recession should be allowed to delay.
Photo of Sen. Joe Lieberman: AP Images