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WITH FRIENDS LIKE THIS WHO NEEDS ENEMAS: Lieberman To Filibuster Any Bill With Public Option

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CBS NEWS: During the 2008 elections, Joe Lieberman attended the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn. and pulled a Zell Miller, delivering a rousing speech – for Lieberman, that is – supporting supporting John McCain over Barack Obama for president. Back in the old days, such an act of party disloyalty would have been automatic justification for banishment to political Siberia. But after their election victory in November, the Democratic leadership held its collective nose and cut a pragmatic deal: Lieberman, now a self-styled “independent minded Democrat” got to keep his chairmanship in the caucus, his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and his seniority – thanks in no small part to support from then President-elect Obama. In return, the Democrats wanted Lieberman to remain loyal in case they ever needed to derail a Republican filibuster. Now we know how that worked out. On Tuesday, the Connecticut Senator became the first Democrat to warn that he would not support cloture if any health care reform legislation includes a public option. MORE

RELATED: Just as Holy Joe wants to make the cloture vote a referendum on the bill’s passage, Democratic leaders lieberman.thumbnail.gifought to make the cloture vote a referendum on Lieberman’s seniority within the caucus. A vote “no” on cloture should be a vote “no” on retaining seniority status, and with it not only his chairmanship but also his entire slate of committee choices. Whoever is next on the wait lists for Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Small Business gets bumped up onto those committees, and Lieberman gets whatever assignments are left after the other 59 members of the caucus have filled the resulting openings. Presumably, that would give Lieberman the junior seats on, say, the Rules Committee, the Special Committee on Aging, and the Joint Committees on Printing and the Library. Maybe someone on Reid’s staff — or maybe Schumer’s, since this is more his style — can sort through the committee requests, run the numbers, and quietly pass on to Lieberman the list of committees he would be left with if his seniority were reset to zero as of the day of the cloture vote. Then let Joe see if the GOP is willing to kick any of its own members off of the committees he wants in order to make room for him. If he can cut that deal, fine. If not, then Holy Joe can contemplate exactly how to keep sufficient corporate money coming in to his campaign for 2012 if he has to spend the next three years sitting in the back of the room on the crappiest committees in Washington. MORE

public-option.gifRELATED: Top 15 Joe Lieberman Betrayals Of The Progressive Cause

RELATED: Other Senators That Would/Could Fuck Up Health Care Reform

RELATED: Liberals favor tying reimbursement rates to Medicare because it would keep costs down and would help get the public option up and running. Yale Professor Jacob Hacker, the intellectual father of the public option, insists that the public plan would have a very hard time succeeding if it was required to negotiate rates with providers. The public option tied to Medicare rates saves $110 billion over ten years. Requiring it to negotiate rates only saves $25 billion. If leadership goes with the negotiated-rate plan, that $85 billion difference will have to come from somewhere to meet President Obama’s ten-year, $900 billion price ceiling. The fattest target is the subsidies to help people afford insurance. MORE

RELATED: Looking to build pressure on moderate Democrats, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will begin airing new TV ads in seven states and on national cable television attacking the emerging legislation, including a government-run insurance option. MORE

ELLIOTT SPITZER: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the self-proclaimed voice of business in Washington—has been eliotspitzer.jpgwrong on virtually every major public-policy issue of the past decade: financial deregulation, tax and fiscal policy, global warming and environmental enforcement, consumer protection, health care reform. The chamber remains an unabashed voice for the libertarian worldview that caused the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the Great Depression. And the chamber’s view of social justice would warm Scrooge’s heart. It is the chamber’s right to be wrong, and its right to argue its preposterous ideas aggressively, as it does through vast expenditures on lobbyists and litigation. Last year alone, the chamber spent more than $91 million on lobbying, and, according to lobby tracker Opensecrets.org, it has spent more than twice as much on lobbying during the past 12 years as any other corporation or group. The problem is, the chamber is doing all this with our money. The chamber survives financially on the dues and support of its members, which are most of America’s major corporations listed on the stock exchange. The chamber derives its political clout from the fact that its membership includes these corporations. Yet we—you and I—own the companies that support the chamber and permit it to propagate its views. Our passive, permissive attitude toward the management of the companies we own has enabled the chamber to be one of the primary impediments to the reform of markets, health care, energy policy, and politics that we have all been calling for. It is time for that to change. MORE

PREVIOUSLY: The Yes Men Punk The Chamber Of Commerce

UPDATE: The Yes Men Get Sued By The Chamber Of Commerce

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