Lieberman's not so tough on insurance

“I’ve never hesitated to take on the insurance industry when I think they’re wrong,†Joe Lieberman insisted when reporters asked him if his opposition to health-care reform has been influenced by all the money he’s been getting from Connecticut’s insurance companies.

The thing is, to Lieberman, the insurance companies are hardly ever wrong, except on two occasions he could cite.

Lieberman said he supported a Patients Bill of Rights opposed by the insurance companies and he did, along with every other Democratic senator and nine Republicans, eight years ago. It wasn’t exactly a controversial bill, but it was never reconciled with a bill passed by the House.

Lieberman’s other crusade against the industry is even less stirring. He once filed a lawsuit against insurers, but that was when he was Connecticut’s attorney general more than 20 years ago — and before the industry gave him a penny of the $1,040,070 he’s received since 1989. (He’s also picked up about $2 million from the pharmaceutical and health products industries and health professionals.)

u      u      u

But don’t think for a minute this reluctance to take on the insurance industry more than twice means Lieberman hasn’t been for health-care reform in the past. He has, but usually when it didn’t matter. When he ran for re-election in 2006, Lieberman was a health-care champion, boasting he’d been “working on health insurance for more than a dozen years.â€

He apparently forgot how he worked on health-insurance reform the last time it had a chance under a Democratic president in 1993. On that occasion, he rejected the Clinton bill — which didn’t have a public insurance option — as “too big, too bureaucratic, too governmental.â€

With his Halloween threat to filibuster the health-care bill with the Senate Republicans, Lieberman went against the wishes of nearly two-thirds of the state’s voters who support not only health-care legislation but also the public insurance option that would force those insurance giants to offer lower-cost coverage. He also went against Joe Lieberman, who, in 1994, introduced a bill banning the filibuster, saying, “The whole process of individual senators being able to hold up legislation … it’s just wrong.â€

u      u      u

But worst of all, in announcing his opposition to the public option, Lieberman didn’t know what he was talking about.

“I want to be able to vote for a health bill but my top concern is the deficit,†said the senator, who didn’t seem to know that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office determined that the House bill that is closest to passage and has the public option would actually reduce the deficit by $100 billion over the next 10 years.

Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman pointed this out in criticizing Lieberman by name with others who “have been attacking proposed legislation for doing things it doesn’t and for not doing things it does.â€

But what if the public option isn’t in the final bill? Will Lieberman’s “top concern†about a deficit be eliminated? Not exactly. Lieberman was interviewed in mid-October on Fox News, one of his favorite news venues, about the mild Senate Finance Committee bill that has no public option.

“I’m afraid that in the end, the Baucus bill is going to raise the price of insurance for most of the people in the country,†said the same Lieberman who was welcomed back to the Democratic Caucus after campaigning against Barack Obama because, said Majority Leader Reid, “He’s with us on everything but the war.â€

Dick Ahles is a retired journalist from Simsbury. E-mail him at

Latest News

Robert J. Pallone

NORFOLK — Robert J. Pallone, 69, of Perkins St. passed away April 12, 2024, at St. Vincent Medical Center. He was a loving, eccentric CPA. He was kind and compassionate. If you ever needed anything, Bob would be right there. He touched many lives and even saved one.

Bob was born Feb. 5, 1955 in Torrington, the son of the late Joesph and Elizabeth Pallone.

Keep ReadingShow less
The artistic life of Joelle Sander

"Flowers" by the late artist and writer Joelle Sander.

Cornwall Library

The Cornwall Library unveiled its latest art exhibition, “Live It Up!,” showcasing the work of the late West Cornwall resident Joelle Sander on Saturday, April 13. The twenty works on canvas on display were curated in partnership with the library with the help of her son, Jason Sander, from the collection of paintings she left behind to him. Clearly enamored with nature in all its seasons, Sander, who split time between her home in New York City and her country house in Litchfield County, took inspiration from the distinctive white bark trunks of the area’s many birch trees, the swirling snow of Connecticut’s wintery woods, and even the scenic view of the Audubon in Sharon. The sole painting to depict fauna is a melancholy near-abstract outline of a cow, rootless in a miasma haze of plum and Persian blue paint. Her most prominently displayed painting, “Flowers,” effectively builds up layers of paint so that her flurry of petals takes on a three-dimensional texture in their rough application, reminiscent of another Cornwall artist, Don Bracken.

Keep ReadingShow less
A Seder to savor in Sheffield

Rabbi Zach Fredman

Zivar Amrami

On April 23, Race Brook Lodge in Sheffield will host “Feast of Mystics,” a Passover Seder that promises to provide ecstasy for the senses.

“’The Feast of Mystics’ was a title we used for events back when I was running The New Shul,” said Rabbi Zach Fredman of his time at the independent creative community in the West Village in New York City.

Keep ReadingShow less