Healthcare critic Lieberman silenced in Senate

December 18, 2009

USA-HEALTHCARE/Senator Joe Lieberman, who has forced Democrats to jump through hoops on healthcare reform in recent weeks, was effectively told to be quiet and sit down on Thursday.

Comedian turned freshman Senator Al Franken gave the order while presiding over the Senate to a surprised Lieberman.

“I object,” Franken said, denying Lieberman the unanimous consent that he needed for “an additional moment” to complete his floor speech on healthcare.

“Really? Okay,” Lieberman told Franken sheepishly. “I don’t take it personally.”

Unanimous consent is routinely given to senators so that  they can have a few more minutes to wrap up their remarks. But many Democrats have apparently wanted to tell Lieberman to hush in recent weeks.

That’s because the former Democrat turned independent has repeatedly forced them to change a healthcare bill to conform with his wishes.

Democrats need Lieberman’s vote to get to the 60 required to clear Republican procedural roadblocks and pass major healthcare legislation designed to bring down costs and provide insurance to millions of Americans.

Lieberman has said he favors overhauling healthcare, but he and others have made Democrats drop a number of provisions favored by their liberal base.

The biggest was a proposed government insurance program to compete with private insurers. Another was a call to expand the Medicare health insurance program for the elderly to those ages 55 to 64. Medicare is now for those 65 and older.

Lieberman has also riled liberal groups, including, which announced on Thursday it has raised $1 million to fund a campaign against him and to oppose the senator if he runs for a fifth term in 2012.

“Joe Lieberman’s behavior over the last few weeks has been outrageous,” wrote in a fundraising letter to members. “But too many people still don’t realize how destructive Lieberman has been to the cause of health care reform.”

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Photo credit: Reuters/stringer (Lieberman walking in U.S. Capitol)


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I saw this when it happened and it was funny as hell. Right before it happened when someone else was on the podium he denied another Repube more time to speak….
Then when Franken denied Lieberman I laughed like crazy…
But THEN it was McCain’s time to speak and he was Upset that Lieberman was not given more time.. said he knew it was the acting presidents right to deny more time but he had never seen it happen.
Then one Democrat ? senator told McCain that it had just happened to another speaker and McCain dropped it…

Things get funny sometimes on the House Floor especially when McCain gets wound up, he is so animated at times.. real funny to see them at like kids ….

I’t about time someone shut Lieberman up. He acted like he didn’t know how to take it and just walked off, then left the floor….

I like watching them sometimes ….

Posted by janeycat | Report as abusive

Franken may become the Democratic “sin eater”, the go to guy with nothing to lose, who tells it like it is, regardless of cost. The Democrats need some ritual cleansing and Franken may be the man. His hard fought, hard won election has him on the top step, Rocky style: he put his fist in the air for all disheartened demos.

Posted by ediblewild | Report as abusive

Ah the comedy routine begins. We knew Franken couldn’t leave the shtick behind when he made it to DC. I will find it quite gratifying and entertaining to watch the Jokester become the Joke. After all, good comedy is hard to find. Thank you Al.

Posted by Zacs | Report as abusive

Hey Janeycat, Franken is a joke…he bombed on SNL, and he’s bombing in the Senate…How does an idiot like him get the gavel anyhow? What are the people in Minnisota thinking…? The democrates are showing just how delusional they really are…most democrates depend on others doing their thinking for them…almost all of them lined up to sign the so-called health bill in March…none of them read the bill, but nevertheless, couldn’t wait to sign…Hillary, Reid, Pelosi, Obama, have these poeple ever stopped to think for one minute, how the heck are the people are going to pay for it…?They say 40 Million new insureds will not cost any more…Please…! Stop the stupidness…!

Posted by freedomfromgovt | Report as abusive

It is funny to me that the Left cannot tolerate dissent or a differing opinion. The Left likes to play that they are “open minded” when in reality they are quite intolerant.

Posted by ForkedRiverGuy | Report as abusive

Franken Rocks!! I wish we had more Dems like this guy.

Posted by Nico-NM | Report as abusive

Very pleased to be a former Minnesotan when I saw that they actually elected a clown to the United States Senate, “the greatest deliberative body in the world”. (Origin of that description unknown)

My sympathy to Senator Lieberman who is probably one of the better-liked, more open-minded, most eloquent and least pompous of group. He is a rare example of intelligence and class in Washington, D.C., so I’m not surprised to see that would militate against him.

I believe “deliberation” requires the open and free exchange of differing viewpoints and ideas, something antithetical to “the party line”. I see as little deliberation occurring in this “august” body as I see concern for their non-corporate constituents.

Posted by roamabit | Report as abusive

Let us not forget a few things here. First, Joe is still nominally a Democrat (the correct spelling), not a Republican. If he’s denied an extra minute or two to finish his long-winded rambling, it’s not for the GOP to cry foul. Second, we all know that Joe has a monumental ego and everything he does is for and about Joe and his HMO puppet masters. And as was pointed out in the NYT, he’s not that bright. He forgets what he said three months ago and when he’s called on it, he looks like a befuddled old guy whose feelings have been hurt because someone pointed out in public that his fly is unzipped. The biggest mystery of all is that he’s from Connecticut. If he hailed from Texas or Mississippi I could understand why he’s such a troglodyte. Those Southerners still have a beef with the USA because of a little thing called the Civil War. They don’t even know what it means to be American anymore. Anyone who flies the CSA battle flag is little better than a traitor.

Posted by IntoTheTardis | Report as abusive

Freedomfromgovernment, would you rather spend our tax dollars for wars or on your fellow citizens health care?

Posted by eddieblack | Report as abusive

eddieblack, well lets ask the families of the 9-11-01 attacks…Iran, Afganistan and Iraq were and are cancers…The citizens are being taken care of when they need medical…let’s keep govt out of as much or our lives as possible…

Posted by freedomfromgovt | Report as abusive

We need a public health care system. The for-profit insurance companies we have now have done nothing to ensure coverage for everyone. And that is to be expected. They want to maximize profit. And you can’t do that insuring sick people.

So we do NOT have a health care system. What we have is a wealth care system. And it is the wealth of the insurance businesses that is being cared for.

People who bemoan the public option because of what it would cost in taxes don’t consider that we are already funding war and corporate welfare. Stopping those two things alone would provide enough money to implement an effective and quality single payer system.

Hard core anti reformists can’t present even a SINGLE argument that not having a single payer system is good for the people. They only claim a single payer system is bad for business. Or that it amounts to government control, as if that were a bad thing. But they offer no guarantees that everyone would be covered. The do not commit to putting the patient at the center of the system. Instead they cried foul on the public option and lobbied OUR representatives to protect their profits.

And this is what we get when companies are allowed to be recognized as citizens under our law.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive

Benny…the “for profit” (oh such dirty words) insurance companies pay employees, provide services, pay taxes, take on the risks of being in business in a free enterprise system (oops, said more dirty words)and do what we pay them to do…provide coverage if you’ve paid your PREMIUM…! Oh under the NEW system, can I wait to wreck my car, then start my insurance…?

Maximize profit…what’s wrong with that…? Maximizing profit is what makes our country strong, innovated, producing quality services and products. Supply and demand…you need a college course in the Economics 101.

Yes we are funding a war…Yes that is true, so WHY are we concentracting on health care that will be such a tax burded on us NOW…? (By the way, pay now for four years and get the health care later) And if you think providing unlimited health care to everyone is not going to cost SOMETHING…you really need to take the college course I mentioned…

The “hard core anti reformists” love it…What a catchy label…The Republicans’ offered up tort reform, state to state competition…hard to talk to the democrates when they’re beind closed doors, busy drafting away, buying senator’s votes and ignoring public opinion…poll after poll. Appalling…!

You say “…government control, as if that is a bad thing…” Listen to yourself…

Posted by freedomfromgovt | Report as abusive


Our police organizations are government run at all levels. Our fire protection is government run at all levels, and so is our military. We are very good putting out fires, throwing people in prison, and killing people in foreign lands.

In response to:
“Maximize profit…what’s wrong with that…? Maximizing profit is what makes our country strong, innovated, producing quality services and products. Supply and demand…you need a college course in the Economics 101.”

It is wrong to profit from the sickness and suffering of others. If you were to come down with cancer wouldn’t you want those people involved in your care to be concerned with your recovery and freedom from the cancer? Do you want those involved in treating you to be more concerned with maximizing their profit from you?

Do you figure that if you or your loved ones get sick or worse, that making sure the insurance company is profitable is of the greatest importance? Would you be happy to let your children go without proper care because it would not be profitable to care for them?

That’s what the insurance business is all about right now.
If you’re going to be profitable as an insurance company then you are looking at two major options. First, you have to come up with ways to deny as much coverage as you can so that you don’t have to pay out.

Second, you want to insure only those people who are in excellent health. That way you can collect your premiums without making much in the way of payouts.

Is this what you call strong? You call our economy strong when it depends on corporate subsidy, and war just to keep afloat?
The reason we are in debt as a nation is because government HAS stayed out of corporate regulation and oversight.
We are in debt because we were more willing to fund not just one, but TWO wars in which the original objectives have long since passed.

You don’t need a class in economics to understand that paying for war is just burning money. Paying for health care is an investment with a much greater return because of what it does for the country as a whole.

Money should NEVER decide if a person is to live or die. It is never the place of money to be the deciding factor on sickness and health. The public option is good for the people.

Your only argument was an economic one. And not a very good one at that.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive

Amazing how shallow and foolish the uninformed are when they post to a site. Rule, tradition, honor, and most of all respect has been the United States Senate since it’s creation. We have set the standard for dignified and active debate for governing bodies all over the world. Today, our traditions, personal responsibility, respect, honor, and economic engine are under attack by vulgar, crude, ignorant little people such as Franken. Most who have posted here have no point of reference from which to gauge the level of disrespect and petty foolishness he displayed in refusing Lieberman’s request. It was wrong, it was small, and it was typical of today’s careless citizens.

Posted by Phocus | Report as abusive

Lieberman being denied shouldn’t come as a surprise. He said himself that if the bill came to the floor with a public option he would uses his position to keep the bill from being debated.

With such a plan already firmly in place in Lieberman’s mind, what does it matter if he is allowed to speak or not. He had no intention of furthering the discussion in order to come up with a working solution. He just didn’t want the public option because he is representing insurance people. And that’s as far as he thought it through.

He doesn’t want to help so he’s useless. He needs to shut up unless he’s got something of value to contribute.

Posted by Benny_Acosta | Report as abusive