In a preview of a Jan. 24 magazine article, The New York Times reports on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's struggle to keep members of his caucus in line on health reform. In December, for instance, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., told a talk show host he would not support the health overhaul plan without significant changes, surprising the majority leader. "Reid had spoken with Lieberman two days earlier, and one of Lieberman's top aides participated in the Saturday-afternoon conference call that Reid orchestrates for Democratic senators who will be appearing on the Sunday talk shows. 'He double-crossed me,' Reid said stiffly, associates later recounted. 'Let's not do what he wants. Let the bill just go down'" (Nagourney, 1/12).
Politico adds: "Lieberman is pushing back hard — and to make his case, he's provided Politico with a private letter he wrote setting out his concerns before he aired them on national TV." The Lieberman camp has said the Connecticut senator "does not believe Sen. Reid would say the words attributed to him," and provided a letter dating to three days before Lieberman's talk-show appearance. The letter raises concerns about the proposed Senate bill, "but stops short of explicitly saying he would vote against it," according to Politico (Thrush, 1/14).
Roll Call has the Dec. 10 letter in full, as released by Lieberman's office. Here are some excerpts:
"...because I do not know what is in the proposals that the group of ten has asked you to send to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), I am sending you this letter to clarify where I am on them based on the variety of possibilities I have heard."
"I might well be able to support the so-called Office of Personnel Management (OPM) proposal, where a private insurance company, non-profit or profit, can apply to OPM to enter negotiations to be approved to offer health insurance ... I cannot support any fallback or trigger that would say that if OPM doesn't negotiate an agreement with a national plan, then OPM would create a public option or non-profit insurance company to compete on the exchanges."
"Regarding the 'Medicare buy-in' proposal, the more I learn about it, the less I like it. A similar idea was part of the Democratic platform of 2000 which I ran on with Al Gore. But that was a very different time" (Drucker, 1/13)