Lieberman Repeats Claim That Public Option Not Part Of 2008 Presidential Campaign

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Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) raised hackles among liberals earlier this week when he claimed that the public option wasn’t a part of the 2008 presidential campaign. He repeated that claim to reporters tonight, though acknowledged, when pressed, that then-candidate Barack Obama did in fact include a public option in his campaign health care proposal.

“This is a kindof 11th hour addition to a debate that’s gone on for decades,” Lieberman told reporters tonight. “Nobody’s ever talked about a public option before. Not even in the presidential campaign last year.”

I asked in response, “How do you reconcile your contention that the public option wasn’t part of the presidential campaign given that all three of the [leading Democratic] candidates had something along the lines of the public option in their white papers?’“Not really, not from what I’ve seen. There was a little–there was a line about the possibility of it in an Obama health care policy paper,” Lieberman said.

(That line read, “Specifically, the Obama plan will: (1) establish a new public insurance program, available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers, as well as to small businesses that want to offer insurance to their employees,” and went on from there.)

I said, “And at the time Senator Clinton, and John Edwards also had…”

“Edwards probably had it more than anybody else,” Lieberman said. “But Clinton, Obama, McCain–I don’t see it. Anyway, I’m opposed to it.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at brian@talkingpointsmemo.com
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