Thursday, December 17, 2009

Joe Liberman, Senator from Big Health Insurance

I would much rather be writing a happy holiday blog, but this won't be it. Alas, the United States government is on the precipice of proving again that our elected Representatives put the needs of their corporate money wranglers ahead of the public interest.

Now I know many of you out there already know this, and some live in countries where they too have big money impinging on "the dance of legislation" in their respective  lawmaking  bodies. And, honestly, I'm no idealist and I accept that a certain amount of this has been in the world  since Julius Caesar was a pup and all that. 

But there are times, ladies and gentlemen, when it gets so brazen that even I, a mild-mannered  and temperate sort who holds open doors for old ladies in shops and drives the speed limit most of the time, just wants to take a nail gun to my own hand and impale my left paw unto the desk I'm typing this on---just to be diverted for a few hours by the excruciating pain---anything, anything, to spare me the disappointment of seeing another small step for ordinary people in my country stamped out by a few special interests and their toadies in high office. 

Joe Liberman is the latest of these apparent toads--a Senator from Connecticut who once ran as the Vice President of the Democratic Party in the Year 2000.  He lost, as did Presidential Candidate Al Gore, thanks in part to Gore's lackluster campaign style during the three televised debates with Bush.   Fighting Joe then smelled a change in the wind and started becoming more conservative and hawkish on all wars, including the dubious affair in Iraq that was wildly destructive and apparently unnecessary. 

Fighting Joe renounced northern Democratic Party policies--like opposition to continuing the war in Iraq--so completely he was actually defeated in 2006 in the party primary by a real Democrat, Ned Lamont.  Joe held on by running to the right as an "independent" and managed to win over Lamont in the general election.  Since then he has endorsed John McCain for President  and become a human monkey-wrench in the fight to give the United States an actual health care plan. 

There are other human monkey wrenches on this bill,  like Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska, who see the health care legislation as a way to restrict public funding of abortions. But Nelson at least has an issue he cares about, and right or wrong its his concern.  But Liberman to me is the one just jockeying about to tick off liberals and his old party leaders like Harry Reid of Nevada who aren't as hot for unjust wars in the Middle East as he is. And then there's this item about Fighting Joe you might find interesting:    (from "The Talking Points Memo Website")


Holiday treats came early this year for the health insurance industry—not from Santa Claus but from U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT). The stock prices of major insurers rose on Monday after Lieberman threatened to join Republicans and delay consideration of healthcare reform legislation until the New Year. Lieberman said he opposes a plan to allow Americans aged 55 and older to buy into Medicare coverage.

Market analysts said there has been a correlation this year between the value of health insurance shares and the chance of reform being adopted by Congress. “Every time the reform seems less likely that it will happen, the entire group trades higher,” Wells Fargo Securities analyst Matthew Perry told the Dow Jones Newswire.
Critics of Lieberman point to his campaign contributions and family ties for his opposition to the Democratic reforms. He has accepted more than $110,000 from Aetna in 2009, according to the Los Angeles Examiner, and his wife has been an employee of Hill and Knowlton  a firm that lobbies on behalf of the healthcare industry.
Liberman of course bristles like an old society matron who catches her hired help knicking the family silverware if he finds someone pointing out this conflict of interest with his wife's employer and his own solemn duty to the public.  
Columnist Froma Harrop, an editor of the Provinceton Journal in Liberman's neighboring state of Rhode Island has speculated "Senator Fighting Joe" will looking for a golden job at one of these insurance companies when he leaves the Senate some day or is defeated for public office.  That seems plausible. How else to explain why he changed his mind in supporting a "buy in" for Medicare to Americans from ages 55-64 just three months ago.  Could it be that Fighting Joe had an abrupt change of heart in the middle of the night? A crisis of conscience perhaps?  Or did  that $110,000 plus all the other money he collects from Connecticut's huge insurance-based economy have anything to do with it?  I leave that to you, dear reader, to puzzle that one out.    
In the meantime, consider this--there are an estimated 40-45 million Americans without health insurance.  They either cannot afford it, or hope they are too young to need it.  That's like the entire population of Canada and Australia walking about just one car wreck or sudden illness  away from economic disaster. There are millions of these uninsured who are children. Millions more stay at jobs they hate just to keep their insurance.  Many more could retire and take care of sick parents or relatives--if only they could buy health insurance for themselves. But that doesn't matter to Senator Liberman, or the for-profit health care insurance racket.         


  1. Imagine my being not-so disappointed to see this interchange between Liberman and Senator Al Franken of Minnesota on the news today. And look who leaps to Joe's defense--John Mc Cain, the Republican candidate Liberman endorsed for President last year. Even though his own state voted for Obama.

  2. great blog doug and I feel like this to -sick isn't it-

  3. Thanks. Yes, sick is the right word for it, Heidi.

  4. Yes, I;m afraid so, Frank. He wedged himself so tight to John McCain and the plucky timber wolf killer Sarah Palin in the last election cycle you'd think they had a threesome going.

    Now there's a grim mental image.

  5. Sorry Frank. Thoughtless of me--I forgot about the time difference for you over there.

  6. It truly amazes me with how this all has come to be so much money into a health care system Doug. To have such a hardship over something that there as mentioned on Mike’s page there is so much money that has been placed into it and all that I can figure is that:
    Either the politicians don't want to loose their seat or they really don't understand what could really take place. I could stand to be corrected but this is a time in which there is change being made and at the same time there are so many that will flip flop on what can be. This is politics not at large but politics gone array. Liberman said one thing while he was running for vice president and then now he changes his mind. Senate certainly seems more confused with all this as this really is something and I think that Al Franken is a very smart chair there but it's really something to see this and again it's really politics to get another vote come the next election and not about the 47 million that go uncovered - truly a pity if you ask me but it's been this way for such a long time. I am not surprised either. So here we have a President that is trying to do his best and yet each side will not compromise and who pays the taxpayers for all of this as well as the 40 some odd million that are legal United States Citizens...amazing and I thought parliament wasted so much time.

    Great blog Doug.

  7. 12 hours ahead of New York.

    08 hours ahead of London/Dublin.

    03 hours behind Sydney Harbour.


    Merry Christmas

  8. You're right Jack. The Senate is so captured by special interests of a corporate variety that they forget the big picture ... what is the point of electing "the peoples' party" into power if they play games with one another like this and forget that party's domestic policy legacy of Roosevelt, Truman and Lyndon Johnson? ...this is not supposed to be some private club for jokers like Liberman to score some payback while millions of the uninsured worry about their children and their own future! Frustrating.

    Thanks for your comments.

  9. That puts you 15 hour ahead of me, Frank. If something goes really wrong in the world, do give us past-dwellers a head's up, please :-)

    Merry Christmas to you.

  10. I really do care with regards to what takes place as it does impact Canada as well Doug.

  11. Indeed I'm sure you do, Jack, and it does effect your country as well. I hope your government can keep Big Health Insurance away from the Canadian system, whatever the flaws there might be.

  12. We don't have the flaws so often that society at large there think. It's the culture of America Doug and I as far as the waiting game the only reason that happens in some places is that we have American companies up here every 6 months offering residence so much to leave Canada and now our government is looking to place what is common within the military health education system.
    The clinton's came to Canada while Bill was within his first term to study the Canadian Health System and how it's done. But really America at large has no clue what are system is.
    A relative that resides in Yorkton, SK, did not think that here eye specialist was of the best (no fiction here) she travelled to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester and to her surprise she walked in and met the very same eye specialist within Rochester as he was a notable specialist. I think that speaks for itself. Our only flaw is in getting doctors to stay here and not leave here - which causes what everyone thinks as the waiting game. As well, we certainly do pay taxes but how many countries around the world do. Yet we never leave anyone out within Canada's medical. Not one. Everyone that is a citizen or landed immigrant that does have papers certainly is afforded Equality within this area of health care. Here where I live it's a one tier system and it's the foundation of Medicare which first came about by a Jimmy Douglas, many years ago. So a long story short we are not in the same situation as down there and just last week, I was talking to a friend from Syracuse whom is a retired professor of sociology that was so baffled at how things have gone and he was asking me what how the system is here as it's looked upon in such a manner that he too wanted to know much more with regards to it. Believe it or not but Americans have come to Canada to seek treatment - I kid you not.
    Now that is a change of the norm of what we have been reading of recent. As there you have a capitalized one tier system. There is no government run public health care but the bill sets up not for profit agencies and Medicaid gets more funding. I compare this to civil rights legislation. Once the door has been opened, it can never be closed. This has been in the works since the days of Franklin D Roosevelt. Proof again that it's proof again that the only difference between a Republican and a Democrat is the colour of tie they wear when they do the bidding of the corporations. But I do hope that a bill come to closure as I have just read this morning. As America does need it - it's probably the one thing that is most needed and has for decades. As a dual citizen, I have seen both systems and if I was not covered under Cigna while I was last there I would have been paying out of my pocket.
    And I don't believe the pharmaceutical countries are to blame I think this is "medi politics". Now this is a government issue and not a "we the people issue" for at least the millions that are legal that go without as that never happens here. This waiting situation that I have heard as mentioned is only due to the "brain drain with doctors and nurses that are recruited with monies like you wouldnt believe each and every end of semester here. The answer is the GOP there does not have a clue on what Canada's system is really when it comes down to it nor really do the people and everyone is doing a CYA.

    Pity I say.

  13. I had heard about the "brain drain" problem, and that's a shame, but I agree ignorance is always a major problem when it comes to social legislation. Just the word "socialized" is enough to shut down a lot of minds here, Jack. I thought the world-wide economic meltdown would have shifted more people's minds here, but Americans want quick fixes and there is a deep, deep distrust of government that is knee-jerk in some areas. But we got something through--it's a done deal in the Senate.

    I do think if the House and Senate can get this bill reconciled we will have indeed opened a door that can't be closed. I predict in a generation Republicans will be fighting to preserve this legislation just as they support Medicare today when the GOP opposed it in the 60's.

  14. Liberman's behavior was a big disappointment.