The many conservative commentators labeling John McCain as a traitor to the Republican party are not being dramatic. McCain’s “no” vote last Friday prevented the advancement of a slimmed-down “skinny” repeal of Obamacare that would have forced bipartisan compromise on health care while representing the first step toward delivering Americans from impending, Obamacare-induced financial hardship.
The ravages of Obamacare have been well-documented, but they cannot be reinforced too often. The examples of its widespread failings range from the big-picture:
“Once provisions of the Affordable Care Act start to kick in during 2014, at least three of every 10 employers will probably stop offering health coverage, a survey released Monday shows.”
“at least 30% of companies say they will ‘definitely or probably’ stop offering employer-sponsored coverage, according to the study published in McKinsey Quarterly.” (Malkin)
To the personal:
“Carol Schaub of Madeira Beach is thinking about dropping her health insurance because she can’t afford the $500 monthly premium. Bob Shah of Seminole increased the deductible on his family’s plan to $5,000 to keep his rates affordable. Janet and David Quinn of Brooksville have put off needed treatments and medications for financial reasons. These are a few faces of a trend that has seen the amount of money American families shell out for health care more than double over the past decade.”
The many problems inherent to Obamacare’s broken framework are succinctly outlined by the National Review’s John Fund:
“Obamacare is a disaster that, left untouched, will be saved only by a massive taxpayer bailout of insurance companies. Premiums on Obamacare exchanges have gone up by double digits annually ever since their formation in 2013. Out-of-pocket expenses — including copays and deductibles — rose 40 percent, to $2,649 per person on average, between 2011 and 2014. Hundreds of counties across the country are likely to have no health insurers offering plans on their local exchanges next year.”
Ironically, McCain has been one of Obamacare’s loudest professed critics, directly benefitting from his promises to repeal the bill as soon as possible:
“In 2015, McCain joined all but one other GOP senator in voting to repeal Obamacare. The next year he ran an ad in his primary campaign against a Tea Party Republican claiming he was ‘leading the fight to stop Obamacare.’ That ad helped him win 51 percent of the primary vote.”
Yet, when it came time to cast the vote against Obamacare that could actually make a difference in the course of American healthcare, McCain showed his true colors- the primary color being decidedly blue.
Promises to constituents, party loyalty, and even the unmitigated disaster that Obamacare has been and will continue to be were not enough to persuade McCain to put his personal disdain for Donald Trump aside.
Republican Senators Susan Collins of Maine, who was caught on a hot mic bashing the conservatives’ handling of the budget, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also voted against the repeal. Murkowski’s reasoning was reportedly the desire to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood, which she has publicly supported. While both senators likely lost the support of much of their constituency in the process, at least they could point to tangible policy reasons-however misguided- as their motive for shooting down the repeal.
McCain, however, continues to be a member of the blind opposition to the Trump agenda, and most see it as the lingering animosity that came from Trump’s infamous slight against the senator from Arizona. The apparent reality that McCain has once again allowed his pride to override the needs of Americans and his Republican constituents is the reason that most on the right have disowned him.
The reasoning behind McCain’s vote could be many. Aside from his tiff with the president, who has since voiced public praise and even an endorsement in McCain’s last reelection bid, some other explanations seem plausible. McCain has taken a liking to the limelight, and there is no doubt that a dissenting vote would bring the most attention to himself possible. The NY Post reported that McCain told reporters to “wait for the show” as he entered the Senate chamber before giving his vote.
Perhaps McCain is under the misguided impression that this vote would somehow solidify his legacy as a moral, bipartisan politician. If so, he picked the wrong issue, as Obamacare is far from an issue worth piercing party lines over.
It is also possible that the party’s decision not to adopt a health reform bill introduced by McCain himself is a motivator in his railroading of the conservative agenda. As reported by the National Review:
“Just this year, McCain introduced a bill to “fully” repeal Obamacare and replace it with a “free-market approach that strengthens the quality and accessibility of care.”
It certainly would align with his penchant for taking things too personally. Regardless of McCain’s motives, the way he conducted himself prior to giving the “no” vote rubbed many on the right further in the wrong direction.
The speech McCain delivered to the Senate on July 25th was indicative of his recent modus operandi. It was sufficiently condescending, coming off as holier-than-thou. He lamented the current Senate as not representative of the “greatest legislative body” which the Senate has been referred to as, lecturing on the lack of compromise and bipartisan support.
He also took his requisite shots at the president, however subtly. McCain apparently does not recall that he ran for president, and lost, for a reason. That reason being that the president has far more power than a Senator, and even the Senate collectively:
“Whether or not we are of the same party, we (senators) are not the president’s subordinates, we are his equals,” McCain said. He added that, “we don’t hide behind walls, we breach them,” which is difficult not to interpret as a shot at Trump’s border wall.
And, the speech lacked any true qualms with the proposed health care skinny repeal, instead settling for platitudes about compromise and days of cooperation past.
In another blow to Republicans who saw the Obama years as the embodiment of partisan division instigated by Democrats, McCain said that his own party was responsible for stoking popularity for Obamacare, when in reality it’s clear that its support comes from Obama’s ardent, un-persuadable supporters:
“All we’ve managed to do (as Republicans) is make more popular a policy (Obamacare) that wasn’t very popular when we started trying to get rid of it,” he said.
McCain urged “compromise” and “cooperation” with the very same Democrats that banded together to vote against the repeal of a health care system that has proven catastrophic in Obamacare, a truly stultifying comment by the clueless Senator. The irony of this is that repealing Obamacare via the “skinny” proposal that Republicans put forward would have instigated the first step in a truly compromise-oriented process:
“He could vote with all but two of his GOP colleagues for “a skinny repeal” bill and get to a conference committee, where negotiators from the House and Senate could devise a bill that might pass both chambers.” (National Review)
But, at the end of the day, the man who lectured fellow Senators on their inability to get anything done ensured continued gridlock on the issue of health care. As we have seen, McCain’s words and actions rarely align these days.
We have also witnessed McCain’s metamorphosis from a conservative into some form of pseudo-Democrat. Through his unjustified road-blocking of the Trump agenda, McCain has sacrificed his benefit of the doubt. It must now be assumed that McCain will take a dissenting stance against any given vote that could go in the Republicans’ favor, in turn delivering on the promises made to constituents.
McCain’s opposition to his own party qualifies him as a donkey in an elephant’s suit. He has tarnished what was left of his legacy as a lifelong conservative, and sympathy for his recent cancer diagnosis is all that has saved him from the wrath of disdain that most conservatives feel for the once-admired Senator.
When McCain received a public thank-you from Nancy Pelosi, it was the clear-cut sign that the time to surrender his conservative credentials has come.