Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, suffered his first defeat on healthcare reform today, but is it really a defeat?

No -- there will not be a 10-year $250 billion unpaid-for fix to avert the steep cuts Medicare doctors could receive in their federal reimbursement.

BUT -- this allows Harry Reid to get a $250 billion headache out of the way of broader healthcare reform, which, according to the budget and a White House mandate, must be deficit neutral.

AND -- it allows the leader to say he tried the $250 billion UNPAID-FOR route and it didnt work, so he can argue (possibly successfully) to keep it off the larger bill.

Not only that -- but imagine if this $250 billion UNpaid-for fix came to the floor during the healthcare reform debate. It's offered as an amendment.  If you're a Republican who wants to sink THIS healthcare reform bill (not healthcare in general -- Republicans have different wants in terms of reform, though they reiterate often that they DO want reform), would you not vote FOR the amendment, increase the price tag on the bill to well over $1 trillion? 

You've just voted to bust the budget, but the Democrats' healthcare reform effort would then be in serious jeopardy.