It was hard to get a real good grip on what's to come in the Senate Finance Committee on health care reform, as Democrats started sending signals that they are ready to get cracking on the issue real soon.
Those messages came from the Senate leadership, which started making noise that a Senate floor debate on health care reform could start soon - as in maybe next week.
Maybe my Spidey News Senses are wrong, but that would surprise me, especially since the Finance Committee will be lucky to finish work on this bill by next week if day one is any indication of what's ahead.
The first day was mainly spent in sparring mode, as Senators from both parties pointed the finger of blame at each other over what was on the health reform table and what had slipped into the Legislative Ditch.
A number of Democrats made plain that they didn't like the bill details offered up by their Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, vowing to add things like a public health insurance option.
Republicans meanwhile all denounced it, as even Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine rattled off a series of issues she had with the details of the bill.
It wasn't but back in June and July when we watched the Senate Health Committee grind away day after day on a less complex health reform bill. That's what makes me wonder about how long this will take.
Another fly in the ointment could be cost estimates for this bill. The head of the Congressional Budget Office told Senators that he would need a couple of weeks to come up with solid cost estimates once a bill is finished.
That got a lot of smiles from Republicans, and some cross looks from Democrats, including Chairman Baucus, who pointedly said that was "unacceptable."
Look for Republicans to really harp on those cost estimates - or the lack thereof. It could well be a powerful argument for them, as they try to influence Democrats who are on the fence about health reform.
The members of the state ethics commission, eager to bring order to one of the most disordered corners of state government, hired a “receiver” last week to heal their agency and then did they only thing they could.
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