Congressman Joe Courtney says he's "frustrated" by the actions of Senator Joe Lieberman to oppose public options in health reform. But, as WNPR's John Dankosky reports, Courtney is calling out the entire Senate for "degrading" the system during this debate.
Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman calls the Senate "ominously dysfunctional" in Monday's New York Times, and on WNPR's Where We Live, Congressman Courtney agreed.
"The Senate right now has become almost ungovernable."
Courtney says some 200 House bills are awaiting action in a slowed-down Senate that has broken records for the use of the filibuster, with 98 so far this year. Courtney calls it an "abuse" of rules that aren't even part of the Constitution. He says this elevates the power of each Senator, including Joe Lieberman.
Courtney says the Senator's not in touch with his constituents on health care reform and the public option.
"The Quinnipiac poll that came out in November showed 57-36 support for a government option. We're seeing in the state of Connecticut the health insurance marketplace continue to collapse. The merger of United Health Care and Health Net now will remove one other private option in the health care marketplace. So, what I think is happening in Connecticut, and what I think public opinion is in Connecticut is people want to have that choice."
Courtney says, in order to reduce the "power of one" that's held back health reform in the Senate, the rules need to be changed.
In fact, Senator Lieberman himself co-sponsored a bill in the 1990s that would have changed rules to allow for a simple majority vote to end a filibuster after a few days of debate. Lieberman's co-sponsor at the time, Senator Tom Harkin, says he's thinking about re-introducing the bill.
For WNPR, I'm John Dankosky.