| The big piece of news being bandied about today is that our favorite "Democrat" - Joe Lieberman - vows he'll block any healthcare reform bill that includes the public option, as he positions himself, according to the Politico report, to be a "fiscal hawk" on the issue. Even though the CBO has time and time again scored any reform bill that includes a public option lower than bills without it. In fact, the bigger and more inclusive the public option, the lower the cost of reform.
Either Lieberman is a complete idiot, bluffing, petty and revenge-minded, or he's using his position on the bill to kick off a bidding war for his services from both parties.
And Harry Reid appears nonplussed about Lieberman's threat.
(Frankly, I would like to see the Senate Democratic leadership pull out the stick for a change. You know, strip Joe of his committee chair and deny him of his appropriations requests, and watch how his lobbyist friends abandon ship. No better way to hurt a Senator like Lieberman than to go after his goody bag.)
And as Lieberman disses the public option, its popularity among voters continues to climb.
No wonder a majority of Americans in a recent WSJ/NBC poll think the US is on the wrong track. And while conservatives are off braying, seeing in the results a rejection of liberal politics, if you look closer at the numbers, it's pretty obvious the reverse is true:
-- Obama's approval rating remains at 51% in the poll, exactly where's it's been for the last few months.
-- 43% approve of the president's handling of health care. For Republicans, it's 23%.
- 42% have a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party. For the Republican Party, it's 25%. (Update: The GOP's rating is even worse now than it was during Bush's two terms.)
- On the generic ballot test, respondents favored a Democratic candidate over a GOP candidate, 46% to 38%. A month ago, the margin was only three points in Dems' favor.
- 63% believe the economic problems the White House is dealing with were inherited from the Bush era. That's down from 72% in June, but it's still quite high.
Combine those results with, say, Sarah Palin's popularity, and it's obvious the numbers show that the Republican brand is toxic. That's the real story here. No one scores worse on healthcare than Congressional Republicans. The economy is still seen as a Republican creation. And the likely drop-off in numbers about the direction of the country and the handling of healthcare is likely coming from disillusioned liberals and independents, who see Congress playing politics-as-usual footsies with corporate America.
And politicians know it, too. Those Senators facing tough re-election campaigns are often the public option's biggest boosters. First, it was Alren Specter, who favors a robust and accessible public option. And, more recently, there's Harry Reid, who looks like he's going to include it in the Senate healthcare bill over fears for his approval numbers back home.
The key, now, is to hammer this home, again and again to our elected representatives. Yes, it's work. Yes, it's slow and painful. But, yes, we can move this thing, bit by bit...