Monday, September 25, 2017
22222That comment from U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., does more than merely explain the veteran lawmaker’s opposition to the GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
McCain literally blew the lid off GOP hypocrisy, political heavy-handedness and a win-at-all-costs attitude.
It’s the second time in three months the 81-year-old McCain, a genuine American military hero, has refused to march in lockstep with his party on the all-important issue of health care.
Now, as then, he is driven by a firm belief that Republicans and Democrats must work together in fashioning solutions to the problems afflicting the Affordable Care Act.
Some Republicans in Congress are bound and determined to completely erase the ACA from the federal code because it was the brainchild of former Democratic President Barack Obama and was pushed through legislatively by the Democratic-controlled House and Senate. Opponents view it as socialized medicine.
The GOP took control of Congress by running against Obamacare, and Republican President Donald Trump made repealing and replacing it a cornerstone of his campaign last year.
Thus today, Trump and GOP leaders in Congress are pushing for quick action.
But as McCain has rightly pointed out, his colleagues on Capitol Hill harshly criticized Democrats for not including Republicans in the development and passage of Obamacare.
Their hypocrisy is palpable.
The senior senator from Arizona, who is battling brain cancer, is also disturbed that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has not scored the GOP bill, co-written by Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, his best friend in the Senate, and Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
Finally, McCain dismisses the idea that the bill must be put up for a vote before the end of the month so it can be passed with a simple majority. After Saturday, it will take 60 votes to enact any alternative to Obamacare.
There are 52 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents in the Senate. With all Democrats and the independents opposed to the GOP’s health care bill, Graham and Cassidy, who wrote the legislation in private, are seeking 50 votes. Vice President Mike Pence would break the tie.
GOP COMING UP SHORT
But as of Sunday, the GOP appeared to be coming up short. In addition to McCain, Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky said he will vote no, and Susan Collins of Maine was leaning against passage.
Also, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was a possible “no.”
Nonetheless, President Trump has made it clear he wants a vote on the legislation. It could occur Wednesday.
Graham and Cassidy are touting the fact that their bill dismantles the national features of Obamacare and sends federal dollars to the states to decide the level of health care that should be provided to individuals who do not have private insurance.
The analysis also shows that money would be taken away from blue states, which generally support Democratic candidates, and given to red states, which typically support Republicans.
Such partisanship is not only counterproductive but is politically cynical.
This nation is fortunate to have a senator like McCain and a Republican governor like Ohio’s John R. Kasich who aren’t afraid to publicly criticize members of their party for putting political expediency before the public good.
Kasich has long called for a bipartisan approach to reforming Obamacare and has been working with Colorado’s Democratic governor, John Hickenlooper, on a plan to deal with some of the basic shortcomings.
We believe that Kasich and Hickenlooper should be part of a congressional bipartisan group that is assigned to reform Obamacare. The governors would provide valuable insight into what states need to ensure that everyone has access to high-quality, affordable health care.
Rushing to pass the Graham-Cassidy bill that has not been evaluated by the CBO and is opposed by every health care organization in the country, including the American Medical Association, is foolhardy and dangerous. If it becomes law, millions of Americans would be in harm’s way.
We urge Republicans on Capitol Hill to take McCain’s advice and embrace bipartisanship on an issue with national implications.