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Connecticut colleagues ‘fed up’ with Joe Lieberman


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Liberal anger at Sen. Joe Lieberman spread across Capitol Hill on Tuesday, with a House Democrat from Connecticut calling for his recall and Lieberman himself acknowledging the angst he has caused.

“No individual should hold health care hostage, including Joe Lieberman, and I’ll say it flat out, I think he ought to be recalled,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told POLITICO.

Connecticut has no recall law for state officials, and the Constitution does not authorize states to recall members of Congress, since each house has the authority to police its own members.

DeLauro acknowledged that she didn’t know if it was possible to oust Lieberman from office. But her comments reflected the deep frustration many Democrats felt after Lieberman told Senate Majority Harry Reid that he’d join Republicans in filibustering the Senate health care reform bill if it included either a public insurance option or a provision allowing people ages 55 to 64 to buy into Medicare.

“There’s huge concern that borders on frustration,” Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said of Lieberman’s position.

“It goes beyond frustration in Connecticut in terms of the way people feel,” Larson said. “I have a great deal of respect [for] and I have long admired Joe Lieberman. This goes against the grain of most of what he’s fought for and stood for all of his life. It’s thoroughly frustrating and disappointing for so many of us.”

“People are fed up in Connecticut, and it’s maddening to those of us who feel we have a pretty clear sense of where people in Connecticut are,” said Connecticut Democratic Rep. Chris Murphy.

He added: “I have no idea what Sen. Lieberman’s agenda is. I have stopped trying to be Sherlock Holmes.”

At a White House meeting Tuesday with the Senate Democratic Caucus, Lieberman said he “understood how people were upset with the position I took.”

“But like each of them, I had to do what I thought was right,” he said he told the group. “I didn’t run for reelection — and no one here did — asking the voters of my state to vote for me because I would always do what a majority of members of the caucus did, even if I thought some of those things were wrong. None of us would pledge that to our constituents.”

Lieberman said he told his colleagues that he hasn’t “really had a lot of fun” in recent days.

“One thing he acknowledged, which is important, is how difficult this has been for people on both sides of it,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.). “I was struck by how human that moment was.”

Even Lieberman’s wife has become a target, with liberal blogger Jane Hamsher calling on the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation to cut its ties to Hadassah Lieberman because of her prior work for the pharmaceutical industry.

Lieberman has called the attacks on his wife “outrageous and insulting,” and his spokesman, Marshall Wittmann, denied that the senator was trying to block health care legislation.

“The truth is that Sen. Lieberman is seeking to pass a health care bill as soon as possible that will provide coverage to millions of Americans who lack health insurance, Wittman said.”

Asked about his colleagues’ anger, Lieberman said Tuesday: “I don’t like getting attacked personally, but I’m used to it. ... We have a disagreement, but our relations continue to be cordial.”

Liberal blogs and others have argued that Lieberman has flip-flopped on the Medicare buy-in proposal; he supported the idea when he ran for vice president in 2000. But Lieberman issued a statement Tuesday in which he said that the national debt then was less than half what it is now, that Medicare was not on the cusp of going broke and that there was no “viable” proposal like the one being considered on the floor.

He said comments he made to the Connecticut Post in September endorsing the idea were “before we had a bill for consideration on the Senate floor that contains extensive health insurance reforms, including limiting how much more insurance companies could charge individuals based on age and providing subsidies that would specifically help people between the ages of 55 and 65 to afford health insurance.”

Lieberman added: “I look forward to passing a bill that will give the American people genuine health care reform without impeding our recovery from the current recession or adding to our exploding national debt.”

Lieberman’s home-state colleague, Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd, said the frustration aimed at Lieberman arose mostly out of support for the public option back in Connecticut.

“It’s just people’s frustration for getting a bill done and strong support for a public option,” he said.

North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, a Democratic centrist, said Lieberman has actually made it easier to reach a deal on the health care bill.

“In a curious way, it may make it more possible to get something done,” Conrad said of Lieberman’s position. “Because he wasn’t the only one with these concerns, it’s very clear — he vocalized concerns many were having.”

Not to worry, DeLauro is an equal opportunist. She is seriously considering Dodd for recall too :drippingsarcasm7pa:

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