A lot going on in the health care debate today:

• In addition to Barbara Mikulski’s amendment strengthening measures for women’s health passing (and the Lisa Murkowski follow-on amendment failing), there were two other votes today. Michael Bennet (D-CO) put together a symbolic amendment saying that nothing in the health care bill will cut core services to Medicare. That passed 100-0. Then Crazy John McCain’s amendment to basically kill the bill by pushing it back to the Finance Committee to remove Medicare “cuts” came up. That failed 42-58. The two Democrats supporting McCain? Here’s the roll call…. Ben Nelson and Jim Webb. The latter is a surprise.

• Public option negotiations continue, but Sherrod Brown doesn’t want to hear a word about those negotiations. “There’s no negotiations as far as I’m concerned,” Brown told TPM. “We’ve compromised the public option three times, maybe four, depending on how you define it. This bill is not going to continue to become more pro-insurance company.”

We’ll see what Brown will do when he really has to take a vote on this.

• If I had to guess, I think the Democrats want to trade Joe Lieberman for Olympia Snowe on this vote. And maybe they want to trade Ben Nelson for Susan Collins as well. Because Nelson is now vowing to filibuster the bill if he doesn’t get a Stupak-like amendment on abortion funding. He hasn’t introduced his amendment yet, but it would be difficult for it to get 50, let alone 60, votes. But the filibuster threat complicates matters even more.

• More groups are starting to put pressure on Harry Reid to go around the ConservaDems. MoveOn.org just sent an urgent letter to its list. They want Harry Reid to up the pressure on conservative Dems and “use every measure at his disposal” to keep the public option in the bill. The letter doesn’t say reconciliation, but it is basically alluding to it.

• When people talk about how the “Cadillac tax” will reduce health care costs, keep in mind they’re saying that employers will cut those costs as a result. You can see that as good or bad – getting Goldman Sachs to give up spa subsidies doesn’t strike me as a big deal – but coverage could degrade for union workers who took pay freezes to get them.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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