Democrats Will Mollify Lieberman’s Stand Against the Medicare Buy-in

Dec 14, 2009 8:03pm

ABC News' Z. Byron Wolf: Senate Democratic leaders took no questions after their more than hour-long caucus meeting and they would not say exactly what will be pulled from their bill to mollify Sen. Joe Lieberman. But it was clear that they would do whatever it takes to get the vote of Sen. Joe Lieberman – and that is likely to include dropping the public option and a newly proposed program to allow people 55-64 buy in to Medicare without government subsidy. “I am confident that by next week we will be on the way toward sending this bill to the President,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid after the meeting. A CBO score on Democrats’ latest proposal could come as early as tomorrow. He compared the legislating process to a steeplechase race, which is long, with hurdles and a big puddle that runners fall in. These are major concessions by liberal Democrats, but not as important as passing legislation to reform how insurance companies treat patients, insure 30 million more Americans, and provide subsidies for people who have trouble affording health insurance. “It is easier to envision the legislation you want than to pass legislation you need,” said Sen. Chris Dodd. He pledged again that the Senate would pass something this year. Democrats are rallying around the idea that it is their responsibility to swallow their collective pride and govern. “There are so many people waiting for us,” said Sen. Max Baucus. “Are we going to act or are we not. Are we going to let them down or not.” Liberal Democrats did not look happy. Sen. Roland Burris, the only Senate Democrat who has said he would oppose a bill without a public option, said on-camera on the Senate floor at 7:30 “Let’s not pass something just to pass something,” said Burris. But his rhetoric has changed a tiny bit. Instead of saying he would oppose any bill that lacked a public option, Burris said he would oppose any bill that did not achieve the “goals of a public option.” Will Democrats searching for 60 votes gain Lieberman to lose Burris? Or Bernie Sanders? Lieberman was beaming after the meeting. He said “we made good progress tonight.” The race is still not nearly over. Even if Democrats can pass their Lieberman bill through the Senate before Christmas, they will either have to convince House Democrats to pass the same bill or reconcile the two.

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