This past week, many Americans heard or read some said news about Arizona Sen. John McCain. The six-term senator, a war veteran and former POW, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He had to be hospitalized because doctors found a brain tumor.
McCain had the tumor removed completely, but he had the same form of cancer that killed Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and Bo Biden (former Vice President Joe Biden’s son). The prognosis is not good for Sen. McCain, who is 80 years old.
After this news came out, there were people on the left and the far right who went after McCain and said he deserved this illness. I would never wish that on anyone.
On the other hand, it is fair to criticize McCain’s Senate votes, past and present.
In particular, McCain made a key vote in order to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (A.K.A. the ACA or “Obamacare”). I want to share my thoughts on this development. Let this serve as a prelude to a deeper discussion of health care in the United States.
This Week, There Is Even More Anger Aimed at McCain.
Sen. McCain left his home to fly back to Washington, D.C. in order to vote with more Republicans to continue a debate on the repeal of the ACA.
At first, I thought the anger at John McCain was premature. He gave an impassioned speech — for which he received a standing ovation — and he that indicated he would not vote for the Senate legislation as it is. He called the bill a “shell of a bill” and said that it needed support from the opposition.
I thought McCain made some valid points. McCain compared this health care debate to the one we had 7 years ago. He derided “Obamacare” for being passed without opposition report and called out other Republicans for doing the same thing now.
McCain could have killed debate on this bill and any attempts to repeal the ACA for the time being. He has also expressed a desire to repeal the ACA and that might happen as long as the debate keeps going. And for that, I understand the anger people are now feeling toward him.
McCain’s vote was bad because it negated his impassioned speech. As The Young Turk’s Cenk Uygur pointed out, while Sen.
McCain has been principled about doing things in a normal order. However, the senator violated his own principles with his procedural vote to continue discussion on this a possible repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
This Legislation Is Bad and the Senators Behind It Should Feel Bad.
The Senate legislation is horrible because it takes health care away from tens of millions of Americans while giving the wealthy a bunch of unneeded tax cuts. The “compromises” are also unacceptable. The “skinny” repeal doesn’t really exist yet, thus taking this process outside of the “normal order” of Congress.
From the Congressional Budget Analysis, we know that the first Senate bills (the Better Care Reconciliation Act and the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act) are harsher than the House Bill. Americans over the age of 50 may have to pay 5 times as much as younger Americans, Medicare and Medicaid will be cut, and an increasing number of Americans will be left without a single provider in their area. Thousands of people will prematurely die each year without healthcare.
Even worse, many Senators don’t even know what’s in this legislation. As Sen. McCain pointed out, all the Democrats and most Republicans were locked out of the process of writing the legislation. It was basically written behind closed doors; that’s something the Republicans derided the Democrats for doing when the ACA was being drafted. This is hypocrisy.
It is also hypocritical for any legislator (McCain included) to do a full repeal the ACA (without giving Americans something better). BTW, the House Bill (the American Health Care Act) is so terrible because it would also knock over 20 million people off health care — but not legislators. So, health care isn’t a right for all Americans, but it should be guaranteed for lawmakers?
McCain himself has benefited from socialized health care. The anger for McCain is thus justified here.
It’s Also Fair to Criticize McCain’s Full Senatorial Record.
Let this be clear: I respect some of the things McCain has done in the past. I appreciate his service for this country as a military veteran. And there have been times when McCain showed true integrity. For example, he did on the campaign trail in 2008 when some of his supporters were trying to Barack Obama’s American citizenship. He also supported the release of the CIA torture report.
That said, McCain can still be criticized for his worst votes.
For example: McCain has been called a “maverick,” but what has he done very little to oppose Trump. He voted for all of Trump’s cabinet picks, including Betsy DeVos.
But that’s not the worst of it.
Among the people criticizing McCain was Caitlin Johnstone. She herself has been criticized for a few recent, controversial blog posts she has written on Medium. Two were aimed at McCain and she used some choice words in those articles. While I think she was largely out of line, she made some valid points about McCain’s record in the Senate.
McCain, despite being a POW after fighting in the Vietnam War, was a war hawk. He supported the Iraq War and the action in Libya and he wants the United States to go deeper in Syria. Over the years, he advocated for hostile action in no less than 10 countries, including Iran and Russia.
(And it was partly because of McCain’s bloodlust that this Russia probe was able to get off the ground.)
When you step back and look at that record, it is one of death and destruction. To make matters even worse, he wants to repeal the ACA, which is at least nominally better than the system Americans had before. That’s rough.
In Short …
McCain has an aggressive form of brain cancer and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But whilst I’m not celebrating his diagnosis, I will not brush over his Senatorial record, including this recent vote.
There is simply no excuse for dooming tens of millions of Americans to go without insurance and thus suffer through their illnesses without proper care. I will not excuse that and neither should anyone else.