It looks like Max Baucus is finally going to let the Finance Committee report a bill. It's not going to be a great bill, but we can all be relieved that "Max Baucus sat on health care reform until it died" isn't going to be the health care reform story of 2009. There's plenty of time ahead for the bill to be merged with the HELP Committee product, and then with the House product in Conference Committee.
4 of the 5 bills have a public option. My forecast is that we won't get a public option through the Senate the first time around, since that's the tightest bottleneck in American politics. But Nancy Pelosi will push a good bill through the House, and then she'll team up with Waxman and Obama to argue for a strong public option, more generous subsidies, exchange expansions, and everything else in conference committee. We'll get 60% of what we want. Then the Senate will vote for the conference report (which can't be amended, so you only filibuster if you're filibustering to kill, and that's more blood than even Ben Nelson wants on his hands.) We're going to get this thing through, there's going to be a signing ceremony in the Rose Garden, and I'm going to have a party at my apartment in Singapore. If you're in town, you're invited. Then over the next couple years Henry Waxman will pass bill after bill to get us all the little things we missed out on the first time around, as he always does.