Senator Joe Lieberman continues to threaten filibuster of the Senate health reform bill even in the face of the recent Harvard study showing that 45 thousand Americans die each year because they lack sufficient health care. As recently as this morning on Face the Nation, Lieberman, the long-time senator from Connecticut, made statements that make it clear he will continue to fight for the interest of the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry over those of the American people.
Reasonable minded people such as Robert Reich have made a strong case the public option is the base minimum America needs from this process. So why does Joe Liebermann take the position he takes. Here are our top five reasons:
- 1) Lieberman isn’t beholden to American voters because so many Americans just don’t vote. In an article posted in the LA Progressive last week, Craig Williams noted that, “Throughout the country in nonpresidential elections, less than 30 percent of voters turn out for elections.” This disengagement gives the incumbent an advantage that it’s hard to overcome. Lieberman had a close call a couple of years ago and as a result left the Democratic Party to become an independent. The end result was that he was re-elected because of a well funded campaign and name recognition the best tool in an incumbent or celebrity’s tool chest.
- 2) He can do what’s in his best interest because mainstream media is failing to do its job. Lieberman can take a position that is not in the people’s interest because most of the people won’t ever know about it. Someone once said Americans are over entertained and under informed. Its easier to find NFL scores or the latest Hollywood gossip than it is to find information on pending legislation — legislation that could have far reaching affects on our lives and certainly impact us more than knowing if the home team is winning. Politicians like Lieberman use this against us. They think Americans have short attention spans and equally short memories. And they’re not so wrong. But having a functioning media system that is in place to serve the people and not the corporations could change this. Without it, our system of government is at risk.
- 3) Lieberman, like all of us, needs money. Big pharmaceutical companies, the insurance industry and others make mega donations to politicians for a reason. It gets them access. It gives them an opportunity to potentially shape policy so that they benefit. According to J. Taylor Rushing of The Hill, Connecticut is home to 72 insurance headquarters, with three times the U.S. average of insurance jobs as a percent of total state employment. With so many insurance companies in Connecticut, is it any wonder that Lieberman is on their side?
- 4) He has a disproportionate amount of power. With an estimated population of 3.5 million, Connecticut ranks 29th in the country in terms of population size. California’s population is more than 10 times that of Connecticut yet Barbara Boxer and Joe Lieberman have equal voting power. This process was established at the founding of our nation when conditions were very different. Should we be so bound to tradition that we fail to re-examine a structure that may no longer serve the people in an equatible manner?
- 5) Joe Lieberman can and will continue to do as he pleases simply because he can. And we, the people, will probably continue to allow him to do it.
It isn’t enough to read about these problems and complain. We need to take action. Even if you don’t live in a particular district, you can send donations to candidates that you believe will work for the people and not the corporations. Here are three places you can go to learn more: