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Last Minute Distractions


Joe Lieberman’s search for even greater irrelevance in the final days before the primary continues.  I have to say I was actually a bit worried when I heard the rumor that he was going to film a mea culpa commercial regarding the war — he needs that kind of bold strike right now, though I doubt even that could pull him out of his current hole.  Instead, his campaign announced that CT-AFL/CIO head John Olsen was holding a press conference to applaud Joe’s "experience" and castigate Ned for not having a union shop (nobody has ever TRIED to unionize Ned’s company).  

I had an encounter with Olsen at an AFL/CIO event for Lieberman a couple of weeks ago, and I asked him how in good faith he could support Lieberman when his record on healthcare was so piss-poor.  Olsen said Joe’s record on healthcare was great, but got a wee bit testy when we started talking about Joe’s role in HillaryCare.  

Let’s dial it back to 1994 (via Lexis/Nexis).  There’s this: 

… He also broke with Clinton on health care. Instead of favoring universal coverage and employer mandates, Lieberman sided first with a conservative plan favored by insurance interests — who have given heavily to his campaign. The plan would cover fewer people and require less government involvement. (Hartford Courant, October 7, 1994)

And this: 


In his television advertisements, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman decries "special favors" for members of Congress. But in real life, he refuses to support a health care proposal that would provide benefits for Americans that are equal to those received by members of Congress, a nonprofit group charged Thursday.


CCAG board member Pam Byrnes said Lieberman’s stance "makes a mockery of his own television advertising."

She called on Lieberman to "Give us health care that’s at least as good as what Congress has."
In a related development, consumer advocate Ralph Nader sent a letter to Lieberman and U.S. Rep.  Nancy L. Johnson, R-6th District, criticizing their position on proposed changes in medical malpractice law in health care reform.

Nader said Lieberman and Johnson support changes that would limit damage awards to victims, and would preempt state laws that favor consumers. Nader has been engaged in a longstanding battle with those who want to tighten malpractice laws, saying the action would cut health care costs.  (Hartford Courant, August 26, 1994)

And what did Holy Joe get for his labors?


Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, D-Conn., who is up for re-election this fall, continues to be one of the biggest beneficiaries in Congress of campaign contributions from the nation’s health care industry, a study released Thursday shows.

In the 19-month period ending July 31, Lieberman received $355,730 from health care and insurance industry sources, more than all but seven members of the Senate and one House member, the study found.


A breakdown by Citizen Action, shows that $134,978 of Lieberman’s total came from insurance industry political action committees or from officials working for insurers. That placed him second in the Senate to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who received $233,675 from insurance sources.

Lieberman also received $48,050 from drug company political action committees, the sixth-highest amount in the Senate, the study says. In addition, he received $26,000 from hospital, health maintenance organization and nursing home political action committees, seventh highest in the Senate. (Harford Courant, September 23, 1994)

So yeah, basically I’d love to hear the labor leaders talk about how great Lieberman is on health care.  In fact, there are a whole host of labor issues Joe sucks on, in addition to being the enabler of one of the worst labor Presidents in history.  And now SEIU Local 1199, it turns out have announced they are backing Ned.  

There are all sorts of rifts in courtship of Joe and labor.  Joe evidently tried to bail on Olsen’s Wake Up WalMart event yesterday, and Olsen yanked his chain like a chihuahua and told him to get his ass (and his silly bus) down to Bridgeport.  And the AFL/CIO membership have only voted to endorse Lieberman through August 8 (have a look at this guy if you want to see how contentious it was to even get there).  If Joe jumps the party I don’t think it’s going to be quite so easy for Olsen to discipline the union rank-and-file in line behind Lieberman.  

So this is Lieberman’s big ANYTHING BUT IRAQ news event of the day?  Sorry Joe, it really just won’t stand up to that 13 point drubbing in the Q-Poll.  But nice try.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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