On Saturday, a 60-39 vote opened the debate on the 2,074-page health care bill in the U.S. Senate. The debate on the amending proposal is slated to last for several (if not more) weeks. CNN reports:
"We do not believe completely restructuring one-sixth of our economy is a good idea at any time," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, told CNN. "It is a particularly bad idea when we’re looking at double-digit unemployment."
McConnell and other Republicans call for an incremental approach that they say would reduce the costs of health care without creating new bureaucracy and taxes.
"We think we ought to go step-by-step to improve the system," McConnell said. "The American people are not complaining about the quality of health care. They’re complaining about the cost of health care."
Democrats respond that the Republicans are ignoring millions of Americans who can’t get health insurance.
Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Democrat who was a Republican for most of his long career until changing parties this year, told "Fox News Sunday": "The one option which is not present in my judgment is the option of doing nothing."
"We have the opposition refusing to admit that there’s any problem with health care, refusing to admit that there’s any problem with global warming, refusing to take a stand on the economic crisis," Specter complained about his former party.
The 60-39 Senate vote Saturday to open debate revealed the partisan divide on the issue, and the fragility of the Democratic support. Democrats needed their entire caucus, including two independents, to muster the 60 votes required in the 100-member chamber to overcome a Republican filibuster.
Now several conservative and moderate Democrats say they won’t support a final bill that includes a public insurance option. Republicans unanimously oppose the public option, which means it cannot survive in the chamber without unanimous Democratic support.
"I don’t think anybody feels this bill will pass" in its current form, Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut told NBC’s "Meet the Press." Lieberman voted to start debate on the bill, but reiterated Sunday he would join a Republican filibuster if the public option remains in the proposal when it comes time to end the debate.
See the Indiana Chamber’s view below: