HARTFORD -- Joe Lieberman, speaking Friday at a fiscal responsibility summit, railed on a burgeoning plan crafted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to shift responsibility for the debt ceiling quandary from Congress to the White House.

The McConnell approach -- known as Plan B -- could incorporate $1.5 trillion in spending cuts to appease Capitol Hill Republicans.

"I've got to tell you honestly here, this plan is Plan Z, not Plan B," Lieberman told about 150 people at the Hartford Club. "This is basically not just kicking the can down the road, it's kicking the can into the next state. It is not a responsible act by Congress as an independent branch of our government."

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In the audience for Lieberman's remarks at the summit -- organized by the Bridgeport-based Comeback America Initiative and the No Labels grassroots movement -- were David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general and rumored Senate candidate; former Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele of Stamford; and former U.S. Reps. Nancy Johnson and Barbara Kennelly.

Lieberman quoted John Adams during his discussion of the fiscal tumult in Washington.

"More than two centuries ago, President Adams warned there are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation: one is by sword, the other is by debt," Lieberman said. "That is what we are facing now."

Lieberman, who became estranged from many Democrats with his hawkish views on national security and won re-election as an independent in 2006, characterized the climate of Washington as bitter.

"In our time, too often, each of our two political parties has been dominated by a partisan ideological wing that has tended to pull us into conflict, not unity," Lieberman said.

Commenting on a proposal to fix Medicare by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Lieberman credited the House Budget Committee chairman for coming to the table with a plan.

"It's hard to touch Medicare, but if we don't do anything with it, it's not like it's going to go chugging along happily," Lieberman said. "The hospital fund is going to go bankrupt in the foreseeable future."

But at the same time, Lieberman said he cannot go along with Ryan's plan to fill the Medicare coverage gap with vouchers because the credits would be based on inflation, not the skyrocketing costs of health care.

"I didn't like what he did with Medicare, for instance," Lieberman said.