Despite the belief of Harry Reid and other Democratic leaders that Joe Lieberman was onboard for the health-care compromise worked out between the “Gang of Ten” last week, Lieberman let it be known on Face the Nation yesterday that he’s still planning to join a GOP filibuster. “It was a total flip-flop, and leaves us in a predicament as to what to do,” a Democratic aide told the Times. Okay, okay, let’s not everyone get all panicky here. Surely a tweak here and there and Joe will feel satisfied that his concerns are being taken seriously. So what does he want to see changed, anyway?
“You’ve got to take out the Medicare buy-in,” Mr. Lieberman said. “You’ve got to forget about the public option. You probably have to take out the Class Act, which was a whole new entitlement program that will, in future years, put us further into deficit.”
Ack! In other words, undo the entire crux of the compromise just struck between liberal and moderate Democrats (and also the Class Act, “a federal insurance program for long-term care,” which is only beginning to receive attention). This is the power that Lieberman now wields as a vital but exasperatingly demanding 60th vote for health-care reform. So it’s a predicament indeed: The bill has to become more Lieberman-y, or it won’t have the votes to pass. But you likely can’t do what Lieberman suggests without alienating many more liberals, which basic math tells us is counterproductive. So how does this get solved? It’s quite unclear — maybe they should just try throwing Connecticut a few hundred million in pork already — but we don’t envy Harry Reid’s task of figuring it out.