In the early morning hours of July 28, 2017, Sen. John McCain cemented his legacy as an enemy of American conservatism with his vote against the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare, thus likely tanking the one and only chance Republicans will ever have of ridding the nation of this burdensome, socialist form of government-sponsored healthcare. Thanks to McCain (with a special shout out to Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins), millions of Americans will continue to be forced to buy health insurance they don’t want, thousands of business owners will continue to struggle to meet an unacceptable federal mandate, and the government itself will continue to grow and grow and grow…
Of course, why should anyone be surprised at McCain’s betrayal? Not only did he signal his last-minute, backstabbing vote with his sanctimonious “Why can’t we all just get along” speech earlier in the week, he’s made a career for himself voting against the interests of the American people. Oh, he can talk a good game when there’s no pressure, but when it comes to his legislative legacy, he’s been one of the most effective liberals in the Senate for a long time. Who needs Democrats when you have Republicans like John McCain?
On the other hand, let’s be realistic about what this was. Republicans did NOT want this bill to become law. If McCain had voted yes, someone else would have voted no. It would have probably been Dean Heller of Nevada, but there are a few others who might have been willing to be the “patsy.” As it was, McCain gave cover to the other cowardly Republicans who can now go home and say, “Hey, I voted for it, y’all.” When really, they only did so because they knew it was safe. This was a show. What we don’t know is when it stopped being about repealing Obamacare and started being about pandering to the right. This week? This year? Or has it always been this from the very beginning?
Retaining Obamacare doesn’t just have its own ramifications for healthcare and the economy, it also makes it very difficult for the Senate to pass any form of truly revolutionary tax reform in the fall. Without the adequate reductions in Medicaid spending, Mitch McConnell’s going to find it hard to reduce the deficit enough to pass tax reform through the budget reconciliation process. That means they’ll have to bring in Democrat votes, and that means they may as well not even bother. Democrats aren’t interested in working with the GOP right now, and it’s hard to imagine they would ever vote for tax reductions in the first place. With the failure of Obamacare repeal, Republicans may be staring at more than a year’s worth of legislative inaction.
Which means many voters are going to start wondering (again) why they even bothered to come out to the polls last November.