The blame for the death of the public option should not fall on Joe Lieberman. Joe Lieberman’s relentless campaign against the public option has not helped the cause, but Joe Lieberman never had the power to truly kill the public option.

Joe Lieberman has never made a secret about his desire to bring down the public option. We knew this a week ago, we knew this a month ago, we knew this several months ago. Harry Reid must have known this whole time that he would never get Joe Lieberman’s magical 60th vote on a bill with a public option. Yet, Reid claimed at the time that Lieberman was the “least of my problems.” We now have proof that that was ridiculous claim.

When Harry Reid added the public option to the merged bill, he must have had zero intention of making sure the final reform package contained a public option. If he really wanted the public option, he would have used reconciliation, or at least threatened to, instead of constantly saying, it was “off the table.”

I would call this move of adding a public option pure theater, but it was, in fact, far more malicious. By adding the public option and dragging out debate until late December, Harry Reid made sure there would not be time to use reconciliation.

I understand why much of the progressive base is angry at Joe Lieberman for what he is doing to the Senate health care reform bill, but you should really be angry at the people who gave Lieberman his power. If Reid had gone with reconciliation, Joe Lieberman would not be writing the bill as we speak. This is what happens when the progressive base believes one of Reid’s worthless promises that he can handle things.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at