Sen. Lieberman Lies, Says "Public Option" Wasn't Part Of Presidential Campaign

November 19, 2009 1:45 pm ET

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told Politico that no one mentioned a public option during the 2008 presidential campaign.  Unfortunately for him, historical fact directly contradicts his new conservative talking point.

Sen. Lieberman Lies And Says The "Public Option" Is A 2009 Phenomenon

Sen. Lieberman: The Public Option Wasn't Part Of Health Care Reform Until After The Presidential Campaign.  According to Politico, Sen. Lieberman said of the public option: "It's classic politics of our time that if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can't find a mention of public option...It was added after the election as a part of what we normally consider health insurance reform - insurance market reforms, cover people, cover people who are not covered." [Politico, 11/19/09]

Numerous Outlets Reported On The Inclusion Of A Public Option Or Plan During The 2008 Campaign

July 2008: Senator Obama "Included An Optional Public Plan" In His Health Care Proposals.  According to Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic, Senator Obama "included an optional public plan in his eventual blueprint for universal coverage." [The New Republic, 7/30/08]

September 2008: Senator "Obama's Plan Would Create A Voluntary Public Option."  In a column in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tom Teepen wrote: "No, Obama wouldn't 'force families into a government-run health care system where a bureaucrat would stand between you and your doctor.' Obama's plan would create a voluntary public option for the uninsured. Others would keep their current insurance." [Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 9/15/08]

September 2008: Then-Candidate Obama's Health Care Proposal Included A New Public Plan And Health Insurance Exchange.  The Columbus Dispatch reported:

For starters, Obama's proposal would require that all children have coverage. He would expand the tax-funded children's health-insurance program to make sure that those unable to join private plans were covered. Although Obama would not require adults to have insurance, he would mandate that large businesses either provide coverage to their employees or pay into a new public plan through which anyone without coverage could buy it. Small-business owners would be exempt and would get a 50 percent health-care tax credit to help ease their cost of employee coverage. People without coverage could buy insurance through new public and private plans. Key to Obama's plan is creation of a National Health Insurance Exchange in which private insurers would offer coverage as generous as the government's plan, with new regulations requiring them to accept and not penalize anyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, Tanden said. [Columbus Dispatch, 9/23/08, via Lexis]

October 2008: Senator Obama's Health Care Plan Includes Both Private And Public Options.  The Lima News reported: "Voters taking part in a Lima News election roundtable all had stories about their health insurance and skepticism about plans from Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain. Obama's plan includes the creation of a national plan of private and public options. Mc-Cain is proposing dramatic change to the taxcode and greater reliance on competition." [The Lima News, 10/5/08, via Lexis]

October 2008: Then-Candidate Obama's Public Option Discussed On NPR.  During an October 20, 2008 interview on NPR, Trudy Lieberman, Director of the Health and Medicine Reporting Program at New York City University, said:

"I think we can say that there are really two key aspects of Obama's plan. One is that he would expand Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Plan, which was a program set up by Congress about a decade ago. The second part is something that's a little bit nebulous right now and that's called his public option. He's not quite sure how this will work or how it will actually emerge in any kind of legislative process. But the gist of it is that people would be able to buy insurance from this public plan, and he often says that people would be able to buy the same kind of insurance that members of Congress have. It's not clear whether the insurance provided for the so-called public option will be provided by private carriers or whether it will be a Medicare-like program. In that particular program, the government provides the benefits." [NPR.org, 10/20/08]

The Public Option Was Part Of The Campaign Dialogue Even Before The Democratic Primary

December 2007: Then-Senator Clinton's Health Care Plan Included A Public Option.  During the Iowa Heartland Presidential Forum, then-Senator Clinton said: "Well, I totally agree with the doctor's diagnosis, and my plan does that. My plan provides for a public option to compete with private insurance. My plan guarantees that every American is covered by insurance, that no American will be left out." [Iowa Heartland Presidential Forum, 12/2/07, CQ Transcription via Lexis]

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