October 29, 2009

Rachel Maddow talks to Glenn Greenwald about Joe Lieberman's threat to filibuster the health care bill if it contains a public option, Evan Bayh quickly following suit and the financial gain being made by both men and their spouses for doing so.

Maddow: Sen. Lieberman has made it very clear that he plans to oppose health reform that includes a public option. He’ll filibuster it in fact which would be historic. What do you think is motivating him?

Greenwald: Well I think you have to look first of all at a Research 2000 Daily KOS poll that was taken last month that shows that a margin of 68 to 21% of Connecticut voters, the people who he’s essentially representing, favor a public option. That’s a 47 point margin which is almost impossible to find on almost any other issue. So when you ask why he’s doing this, it’s clearly not because the people he’s supposed to be representing favor it.

I think clearly what it’s about is primarily that fact that the industry that he’s serving by doing this—by preventing competition with the public option—is an industry from which he receives very substantial benefits. He’s drowning in campaign contributions from the insurance industry, the health care industry, the pharmaceutical industry—more than $2.5 million.

In early 2005 his wife was hired by a large P.R. firm, Hill & Knowlton, in the pharmaceutical division, which at the time was representing the health care giant Glaxo in major legislation before the Senate. And several months later Joe Lieberman was on the floor of the Senate offering legislation that would directly steer huge amounts of incentives to that company in order to develop vaccines.

So I think what you’re seeing here is the kind of legalized corruption, legalized bribery that runs the United States Senate; only in this case it’s particularly sleazy and transparent because Lieberman is ready to gut the major initiative of the Democratic Party.

Maddow: In doing so, using a procedural tactic that he’s in part made his name by opposing is the thing that’s so dramatic. Sen. Lieberman of course—he made this big announcement yesterday—today Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana followed suit saying that he reserves the right now not only to filibuster the final vote, but even to filibuster earlier than that any debate on a bill that he’s not happy with. Sen. Bayh—we had thought that other conservative Democrats might follow Lieberman’s lead here, he sort of threw the door open and now presumably Bayh and maybe even others will follow. Can you say anything about what may be motivating Bayh.

Greenwald: Well, let’s look at Sen. Bayh. His wife sits on the Board of Directors of WellPoint, one of the largest health insurance companies in the nation. They own by their own disclosures between $500,000 and a million dollars just of WellPoint stock alone. And as I think you reported yesterday when Sen. Lieberman threatened to filibuster to the public option as one would expect the value of the stock of the health care industries and the health care companies skyrocketed—which directly benefited, personally benefited the finances of the Bayh family.

Let me just quickly reference this column two weeks ago by Dan Carpenter, a columnist for the Indianapolis Sun, who knows Sen. Bayh the best. He talks about how his wife is benefiting directly from the very actions Sen. Bayh is taking in the Senate to block health care reform—financially benefiting his family. And he wrote “after it became clear he was going to be a Senator, Susan Bayh started stacking up memberships on the board of health care corporations. Susan Bayh got paid a little over $2 million for her service between 2006 and 2008. Her husband had a good 2008 also, collecting more than $500,000 in campaign donations from the health care industry.

And now these very same people who receive enormous amounts of benefits, in Lieberman’s case from camp contributions and through his wife and also in Bayh’s case are not ignoring their constituents and the interest of their country to serve the very industries that enrich them. It’s really clear corruption.

They went on to discuss the promises made by Joe Lieberman when he was allowed to keep his chairmanship and the way these corporate Democrats have been allowed to do anything they want while liberal Democrats have been threatened with loss of support unless they voted for the war supplemental bill.

It's just pathetic that this type of reporting is the rarity instead of the norm on cable television. If Lieberman and Bayh want to filibuster their own caucus in the Senate, I say break out the cots and the diapers.

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