Senate Democrats vote to bring health care bill to floor for debate

Whether it's chancing luck or not, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid  tomorrow night will attempt to replicate what his equal in the House, Nancy Pelosi was able to do two Saturday nights ago : That is, get the minimum number of members of Congress  to shut off the first Republican efforts to block action on their health care bill that was unveiled late Wednesday night.

It should be emphasized that tomorrow's vote is not on whether to approve the Senate's $848 billion plan spread out over 10 years - it's to begin debate.

But whether that will be enough for some centrist Democrats, such as Arkansas's Blanche Lincoln, Nebraska's Ben Nelson, and Louisiana's Mary Landrieu is still unclear at this point.  Though one can't accuse Reid of doing whatever it takes to acquire their votes.

As the NY Times reports:

the measure that emerged from Mr. Reid’s office contained a special $100 million in Medicaid money for “certain states recovering from a major disaster,” a designation that analysts said clearly applied to Louisiana and perhaps only Louisiana.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that business groups, some of whom were "encouraged" by the bill that the Senate Finance Committee (Remember the Baucus bill and the near daily speculation about what would Olympia Snowe do?)  passed in October and hoped that it would form the basis of the final legislation.  But apparently they're now bent out of shape because Reid has included a public option in the bill that was completed this week.

We've already heard from Joe Lieberman and the Republicans about how horrific a public option would be.  But it makes one wonder if they've read the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of the Senate bill, which says that because they believe at least one third of the states (and there is a proposed constitutional amendment to include Florida in this) would 'opt out' of a public option, that it would only cover 3 to 4 million people.  From the CBO:

"CBO's analysis took into account the probability that some states would opt not to allow the public plan to be offered to their residents. Rather than trying to judge which states might opt out, CBO applied a probability recognizing that public opinion is divided regarding the desirability of a public plan and that some states might have difficulty enacting legislation to opt out. Overall, CBO's assessment was that about two-thirds of the population would be expected to have a public plan available in their state."

Makes you wonder what all the fuss was about, doesn't it?