By Frank James
Former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean is calling for the Senate to kill the health-care overhaul legislation, saying the compromises needed to get the vote of Sen. Joe Lieberman and others have so weakened the legislation that it wouldn't be worth passing.
According to Greg Sargent's The Plum Line blog, Dean, a physician by training and a former Vermont governor and 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, made his remarks during a Vermont Public Radio taping Tuesday.
Dean said the removal of the Medicare buy-in made the bill not worth supporting, and urged Dem leaders to start over with the process of reconciliation in the interview, which is set to air at 5:50 PM today on Vermont Public Radio, political reporter Bob Kinzel confirms to me.
The gauntlet from Dean -- whose voice on health care is well respsected among liberals -- will energize those on the left who are mobilizing against the bill, and make it tougher for liberals to embrace the emerging proposal. In an excerpt Kinzel gave me, Dean says:
"This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill, go back to the House, start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill."
Kinzel added that Dean essentially said that if Democratic leaders cave into Joe Lieberman right now they'll be left with a bill that's not worth supporting.