Blanche Lincoln is addressing the Senate right now. She’s touting the Senate Finance Committee bill – which she voted for, by the way. She wants the final bill to be closer to the “common-sense, deficit-reducing bill” in the Senate Finance Committee, and that she will work hard to do that. That seems to tip that she’ll vote to proceed debate, since otherwise, could you fix the bill at all? We’ll know in a moment.

…Says that in 17 states, including her home state of Arkansas, one insurance company covers at least half of all residents. “American capitalism is based on choice and competition.”

…Decrying that groups “from outside my state” are pushing her about her vote on health care. “These outside groups think this is all about my re-election… they don’t know me very well.”

…”I’ve avoided the extremist claims from the left and the right” and sought common-sense policy solutions. Issue is very complex and there’s no easy fix. Should build on what’s already working. All Americans should have access to quality and affordable health care. Do not support robust and government-administered public plan. Shouldn’t put federal budget at risk to public plan bailouts.

…”My first loyalties are with the people of Arkansas, not with insurance companies or the members of my party.” Touting her amendment in the SFC limiting insurance company CEO salaries.

“Our Republican colleagues object to beginning debate. I have concluded that we should begin this debate rather than dropping the issue and walking away.” So she’s voting for the motion to proceed. All drama ended on the motion to proceed!

…”I will not allow my decision on this vote to be made by my political opponents or liberal interest groups from outside my state.” Those horrible liberal interest groups who want health care for all Americans!

…”Let me be perfectly clear. I am opposed to a new government-administered public option and I will not vote for what has been proposed by Leader Reid as it has been written.” There will be other procedural votes… I’ve alerted the Leader that I’m prepared to vote against moving those procedural votes as long as the public option is included.

Listen to what Lincoln is saying. She’s clear that she won’t vote for a bill with the public option. Then she says that everybody’s blown the public option’s importance out of proportion. So she’s staking her vote on a tiny, meaningless bit of the bill!

…We should be stopping the growth of gov’t… without public option we can still do a lot.

…Lincoln’s ransom note: no public option; deficit neutral; build health care work force, especially in rural America.

…”This is not my last or only chance to have a role in health care reform.”

So, where are we? Lincoln says she’s against the bill with a public option and that she’ll vote against a final cloture vote if that remains. She’s OK with the motion to proceed tonight. She joins Joe Lieberman as the two who have unambiguously said they’d join a Republican-led filibuster over the public option. 58 other Democrats have not said that.