Even though U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd and U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman talk every day Dodd said Monday that he hasn’t tried to change Lieberman’s mind regarding a public option.
Dodd favors a public option and Lieberman, the Democrat-turned-Independent, opposes it.
As attention in the national health care debate now turns toward the Senate, it’s a question Dodd will be asked more often on his visits to Connecticut.
What happens if Lieberman derails national health care reform by joining with the Republicans in a filibuster?
“That’s getting way down the road,” Dodd said Monday dismissive of the question.
And at what point does Sen. Lieberman become a Republican, one reporter asked.
“Well now listen, Joe has been on environmental policy, labor issues, a whole host of other issues is very much a mainstream Democrat…He’s not the only Democrat that’s raised issues about public options others have as well,” Dodd said.
However, unlike other mainstream Democrats Lieberman publicly supported Republican Sen. John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign. But he has already announced his support of Dodd’s 2010 re-election bid.
On Sunday, Connecticut’s junior senator told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that
“The public option plan is unnecessary.”
“It has been put forward, I’m convinced, by people who really want the government to take over all of health insurance,” Lieberman said. “If the public option plan is in there, as a matter of conscience, I will not allow this bill to come to a final vote.”
After a meeting with state health officials at Bradley International Airport Monday Dodd defended the public option, but was mostly silent on the issue of Lieberman’s opposition.
“Increasing the number of choices people have, particularly in the area of insurance, will have the greatest downward impact on rising costs,” Dodd said.
He did say Lieberman is misinformed when he talks about a public option being a government entitlement program. He said the public option will be paid for with premiums.
“We have language in the bill that would prohibit in fact any use of public dollars other than the administration of it to get it going,” Dodd said. “The goal would be that the premiums that would be collected would either self-sustain or support a public option.”
“Do you think he just misread that?” a reporter asked. “Someone did cause that’s not the point.”