On November 20, MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough uncritically repeated Sen. Joe Lieberman's (I-CT) claim that "if you look at the campaign last year, the 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." In fact, both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed a public health insurance plan during the Democratic primary, and Obama continued to campaign on a health care reform plan that included a public option through the November 2008 election.
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Morning Joe quoted Lieberman's claim that "you can't find a mention of public option" during presidential campaign
From the November 20 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:
BRZEZINSKI: He's engaging in a battle where there is absolutely no margin for error. He has to -- he must, must, must get all 60 Democratic votes in the Senate to keep his bill moving forward. But this morning, more reports of Democrats who seem willing to stand in the way of the White House's top priority.
In his toughest language yet, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman is now accusing the Democratic Party of using bait-and-switch tactics on the American people. He says, quote, this, "It's classic politics of our time that if you look at the campaign last year, the 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 ... who are not covered." Lieberman says the support for the public option has now become a litmus test for Democrats, adding, quote, "I thought Democrats were against litmus tests."
SCARBOROUGH: Oh, that's bad.
SCARBOROUGH: Again, you need Lieberman to get over the top and 60.
SCARBOROUGH: Here we are a month later, a month after the president wanted to get this behind him and start talking about jobs, and let me read you what Joe Lieberman said yesterday about the Democrats' efforts on the public option. Quote, "It's classic politics of our time and if you look at the campaign last year, you can't find a mention of the public option. It was added after the election as a part of what we normally consider health care insurance reform -- insurance market reforms, cover people ... who are not covered. I thought Democrats were against litmus tests." That's tough talk.
In fact, Obama campaigned on public option throughout 2007, 2008
Politico: "[T]he 2008 Democratic Party Platform referred to the need for a 'public plan.' " On November 20, Politico stated of Lieberman's claim, "In fact, the 2008 Democratic Party Platform referred to the need for a 'public plan,' and candidate Barack Obama referred more than once to the idea of providing people who can't get private insurance with government-backed insurance similar to that which members of Congress get."
NY Times, May 2007: "Obama would create a public plan for individuals who cannot obtain group coverage." The New York Times reported on May 30, 2007, that in a major health care speech, "Mr. Obama would create a public plan for individuals who cannot obtain group coverage through their employers or the existing government programs, like Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Children would be required to have health insurance. Subsidies would be available for those who need help with the cost of coverage."
Wash. Post, February 2008: Both Obama and Clinton propose "option to buy into a public plan." The Washington Post reported on February 24, 2008, "There is a growing political consensus among Democrats that universal health care can be achieved by subsidizing coverage for low-income people, establishing new purchasing pools to help others buy affordable insurance, and requiring most businesses to offer health plans to their workers or pay a fee. Both the Obama and Clinton proposals contain these elements, as well as the option to buy into a public plan. Their most striking difference is on whether to require everyone to get a policy."
Chicago Tribune, October 2008: Obama's proposal "[c]reates a new public plan as another option." In an article on Obama's and Sen. John McCain's health care proposals, the Chicago Tribune stated that Obama's proposal "[w]ould require private insurers to accept all applicants. Creates a new public plan as another option. Gives subsidies to low-income citizens who buy insurance. Requires businesses to cover employees or pay into a fund; small businesses get refundable tax credit. Estimated 10-year cost: $1.6 trillion."