Friday Reads: McCain Does the Right Thing

Good Morning Sky Dancers!

I’m not sure how many of you watched the late night drama on the floor of the US Senate last night on the so-called “skinny repeal” but it was the first thing that’s ended well for some time.  This was old time Senate Drama and not the kind cooked up by Kremlin Caligula and Scary Moochie. for reality TV viewers.

Senator John McCain–long time cancer survivor and usually full of empty words–stood up and did the right thing.  He stood with Murkowski and Collins and voted a resounding “no”. He did so in a way that will undoubtedly make him the target of the Orange of Wrath.  As my youngest used to say, it was Amazeballs.

Ed O’Keefe of WAPO provides the narrative.

It was the most dramatic night in the United States Senate in recent history. Just ask the senators who witnessed it.

A seven-year quest to undo the Affordable Care Act collapsed — at least for now — as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) kept his colleagues and the press corps in suspense over a little more than two hours late Thursday into early Friday.

Not since September 2008, when the House of Representatives rejected the Troubled Asset Relief Program — causing the Dow Jones industrial average to plunge nearly 800 points in a single afternoon — had such an unexpected vote caused such a striking twist.

The bold move by the nation’s most famous senator stunned his colleagues and possibly put the Senate on the verge of protracted bipartisan talks that McCain is unlikely to witness as he begins treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer.

“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict party-line basis without a single Republican vote,” he said in a statement explaining his vote. “We should not make the mistakes of the past.”


Retired family physician Jay Brock of Fredericksburg, Va., joins other protesters against the Republican health care bill outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., Monday, July 17, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

McCain released this statement to the press.

“From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people. The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.

“I’ve stated time and time again that one of the major failures of Obamacare was that it was rammed through Congress by Democrats on a strict-party line basis without a single Republican vote. We should not make the mistakes of the past that has led to Obamacare’s collapse, including in my home state of Arizona where premiums are skyrocketing and health care providers are fleeing the marketplace. We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”

Paul Krugman tries to make sense of the Republican Cruelty on display during this debacle.  The passage of any of these Republican Repeal Bills would have been the definition of winning at any cost.  I cannot even believe  Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy–a medical doctor–would throw millions of people into suffering and early death.  That’s a cost only an army of demons could love.

More than 40 percent of the Senate bill’s tax cuts would go to people with annual incomes over $1 million — but even these lucky few would see their after-tax income rise only by a barely noticeable 2 percent.

So it’s vast suffering — including, according to the best estimates, around 200,000 preventable deaths — imposed on many of our fellow citizens in order to give a handful of wealthy people what amounts to some extra pocket change. And the public hates the idea: Polling shows overwhelming popular opposition, even though many voters don’t realize just how cruel the bill really is. For example, only a minority of voters are aware of the plan to make savage cuts to Medicaid.

In fact, my guess is that the bill has low approval even among those who would get a significant tax cut. Warren Buffett has denounced the Senate bill as the “Relief for the Rich Act,” and he’s surely not the only billionaire who feels that way.

Which brings me back to my question: Why would anyone want to do this?

I won’t pretend to have a full answer, but I think there are two big drivers — actually, two big lies — behind Republican cruelty on health care and beyond.

First, the evils of the G.O.P. plan are the flip side of the virtues of Obamacare. Because Republicans spent almost the entire Obama administration railing against the imaginary horrors of the Affordable Care Act — death panels! — repealing Obamacare was bound to be their first priority.

Once the prospect of repeal became real, however, Republicans had to face the fact that Obamacare, far from being the failure they portrayed, has done what it was supposed to do: It used higher taxes on the rich to pay for a vast expansion of health coverage. Correspondingly, trying to reverse the A.C.A. means taking away health care from people who desperately need it in order to cut taxes on the rich.

So one way to understand this ugly health plan is that Republicans, through their political opportunism and dishonesty, boxed themselves into a position that makes them seem cruel and immoral — because they are.

McCain may have put on a show but the closing act was worth it and the wait.

The clerk read the Arizona senator’s surname in the microphone of the tense Senate chamber. The two words were met with silence — McCain had stepped out of the room minutes before.

But moments later, he reappeared. By then, the alphabetical roll call had reached Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan. McCain walked over to the front of the chamber, raising his right arm. He held it up in the air until he had the attention of the clerk.
“No,” he said, with a swift thumbs-down.

It was a “no” that could barely be heard on C-SPAN, and a thumbs-down that viewers would not have been able to easily make out. But the moment was crystal clear for the dozens of reporters watching from the gallery above, who let out a collective gasp and made a stampede exit for the wooden double doors behind them to report the news.

In hindsight, it seems clear: McCain had made up his mind to vote “no” well before he walked into that chamber.

There were hints in his body language, the demeanor of the colleagues who approached him and the way the senator navigated the room. As he huddled with members in a series of hushed conversations while Thursday night turned into Friday morning, there were words that could almost be heard from above and even discerned through lip-reading. The clues were all there.

But with all of the McCain show, it was Collins, Murkowski, and a lot of Democrats–including Red Staters–that held firm during the entire ordeal.  Phillip Bump of WAPO has this right.

In other words, those 50 people helped McCain be the political winner. Here are seven people in particular who he can thank for his victory lap this morning.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). It’s sort of amazing that Collins hasn’t gotten more attention for her role in opposing the health-care bill this week. She was one of two Republican senators who opposed the motion-to-proceed, the procedural vote that allowed the climactic vote on Friday morning to happen at all. She was one of the three votes against the Republican bill.

She also made headlines for bashing President Trump after a hearing when a live microphone caught her conversation with a colleague. The administration’s handling of the budget was just “incredibly irresponsible,” and she was “worried” about what might happen. She delivered bad headlines for Trump on three different days — yet somehow has escaped his Twitter wrath.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Murkowski did not escape that wrath.

She also didn’t escape a phone call from the secretary of the interior in which projects important to her state were tacitly threatened. (That’s according to her colleague from Alaska, who received a similar call. She told reporters on Thursday that she preferred not to use the word “threat.”)

Murkowski’s opposition was driven, among other things, by a desire to protect funding for Planned Parenthood, a commitment she made publicly in the state earlier this year. When McCain’s “no” became known on the floor of the Senate as voting loomed, Murkowski was swarmed by her colleagues, hoping to cajole her into flipping. As on the motion-to-proceed, which she also opposed, Murkowski didn’t budge.

I admit to running the gamut of emotions from anxiety, fear, and depression over the thought of losing my access to health care again. I’ve been on Louisiana’s Medicaid Expansion now for a year. I’m getting preventative care again. It’s something that I will likely need for three more years until I can get on Medicare given it will be there for me as it has been for all other over 65 Americans.

I hugged the soundly sleeping cat on my chest and startled her when I yelped and sprung up from bed to dance.  I have a reprieve from unnecessary suffering.  My long-gone cancer still haunts my life.

Protesters on the Hill held their own spontaneous celebration at the news.

A viral video overnight Thursday night showed protesters outside the Capitol break out into massive cheers the moment they learned the Senate GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill would fail.

The video, shared by Splinter News reporter Emma Roller, captured protesters chanting “yes we did” after news the repeal bill failed.

So, I’m just going to enjoy #FridayFeeling and hope that the usual ugly Friday night Trump news Dumps can be held at bay for awhile.


What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

34 Comments on “Friday Reads: McCain Does the Right Thing”

  1. dakinikat says:

    Josh Holland

    If you want to laud Senator John McCain for his military service, or for his occasional high-profile stabs at bipartisanship, feel free. But it didn’t take a lick of courage to vote against an ACA repeal bill that was supported by fewer than 20 percent of the electorate, and which would have killed off some unknown number of his constituents if it passed.

    It isn’t “mavericky” to fly into the capital on Tuesday to offer the deciding vote to take up a series of bills that would have stripped insurance coverage from between 16 and 23 million people, only to grab the spotlight with a no vote two nights later during the final, decidedly operatic act.

    “Wait for the show,” McCain had told reporters during last night’s grueling series of votes. Then, at 1:29 this morning, he walked to the center of the Senate floor, paused to make sure everyone was watching, raised his arm, and, like a Roman emperor deciding the fate of a fallen gladiator, turned his thumb down as he said, “No.”

    Republicans faced intense pressure to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but they had nobody to blame for that but themselves. For seven years, they’d portrayed Obamacare as something between a bad outbreak of Ebola and a planet-destroying meteorite. Despite its flaws, many of which were intentionally inflicted by Republicans intent on depriving Barack Obama of a legacy, the law nonetheless reduced the rate of uninsured to an all-time low, expanded public health care to 14 million low-income people and slowed the growth in health-care costs dramatically.

    But in Republicans’ telling, it had had the opposite effect, driving premiums through the roof and pricing millions of people out of the market. And those lies paled beside their blather about “death panels” and “government takeovers.” We never stopped hearing about Obamacare’s “victims”—the estimated 1.6 million people who lost mostly substandard plans after Obama’s unfortunate promise that if you liked your insurance plan you could keep it. Never mind that around 15 times that number gained coverage under the law.

    Republicans found themselves in a position where they were forced to choose between screwing over their constituents in unprecedented numbers, or facing the wrath of a GOP base that had been whipped into a frenzy by their rhetoric and would now feel a keen sense of betrayal. But it was their rhetoric that created both the rock and the hard place they found themselves stuck between this week.

    • jane says:

      I can’t think of McCain as a hero in this matter or even a believer in democracy. He says Obamacare was “rammed through without a single republican vote”. They would have been happy to ram through a repeal with no democratic votes, even with protestors in the streets of many cities. They were happy to install trump with Hillary carrying more votes than trump. They also would have been happy if the confederacy had won the Civil War and ripped this country apart. Sometimes the majority loses in democracy, but the republicans are always mad as heck when they are the ones doing the losing.
      McCain was the son of an Admiral and if any other pilot had crashed as many planes as he did, they would have taken him off flight duty. The fact of who his father was kept him flying. When he crashed and was captured, the other captive POWs did not like his behavior while in captivity. So is he really a hero or just one more kid advanced by what his father was, just like trump?

  2. DGGYST says:

    What an emotional rollercoaster ride!

  3. NW Luna says:

    Whew! Good to hear the reprieve news this morning! Normally I’m up late by East Coast time, but last night I felt exhausted and went to bed early and so missed this.

    McCain gets most the glory and the 2 women R Senators who held firm and did the right thing for their constituents tend to get overlooked. And McCain babbles about how bad the ACA is for his state when I doubt most Arizonians would agree with him.

    Now we can celebrate — however briefly — holding back the “cruel and immoral.” Yes We Did!

  4. I watched the vote live last night. It was grand political theatre to be sure. But for the first time in 6 months, my body actually untensed. And I finally got a restful sleep. I’m thankful to Senator McCain for doing the right thing, even though I disagree with his reasons. That’s what real politics is all about. Enjoying this moment of peace before the TRumpian circus’ s next act begins.

  5. NW Luna says:

  6. dakinikat says:

    John McCain’s big moment mattered only because Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were unshakeable.

    Women Saved the Affordable Care Act

  7. NW Luna says:


  8. NW Luna says:

    And shit again. We can’t even rest a half-day without worrying about WTH this crazy POTUS* will do in response. More to N Korea — he’ll probably roll over for Putin.

    Russia Seizes 2 U.S. Properties and Orders Embassy to Cut Staff

    MOSCOW — Russia took its first steps on Friday to retaliate against proposed American sanctions for Moscow’s suspected meddling in the 2016 election, seizing two American diplomatic properties and ordering the United States Embassy to reduce staff by September.

    The moves, which Russia had been threatening for weeks, came a day after the United States Senate approved a measure to expand economic sanctions against Russia, as well as against Iran and North Korea. The bill, mirroring one passed by the House on Tuesday, now goes to President Trump for his signature.

    • Enheduanna says:

      tRump is perceived as weak – and rightly so. DPRK and Russia are goading him but I’m not sure to what end.

    • Earlynerd says:

      No, he signed it.

      In no way a sign of patriotism or judgement, but more anything wanting not to be on the “losing” team.

      This is what America gets when an America for two+ generations has been raised by a media with no other motive than profit, by whatever means.

  9. Enheduanna says:

    Happy Friday all!

    For a little additional stress relief, here is a neat archaeological story I found over at Echidne’s place:

  10. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Yes, TRump picks the best people, the very bestest people!

    • NW Luna says:

      “the White House is failing” LOL. And Trump likes yes-men. Quelle surprise!

      “I think any observer — including one that did not speak English and knew nothing about politics and came from another planet and solar system — could, after observing the situation in the White House, realize the White House is failing. And when the White House is failing, you can’t replace the president,” said one informal White House adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share a candid assessment.

      Trump has long been drawn to military leaders — “my generals,” he calls them — and by appointing Kelly, the president hopes to bring military discipline to his often-unruly West Wing. Kelly is expected to be sworn into the job on Monday morning and convene a Cabinet meeting.

      Kelly, who is widely admired by Trump family members and loyalists, has formed a bond with the president over recent months that was fortified when he aggressively defended the travel ban policy. Their relationship has only grown stronger since, with Trump telling aides that he sees Kelly as someone who dutifully follows through on his agenda — including a border security crackdown and sharp reduction in illegal immigration — and does not cause him problems.

  11. dakinikat says:

    • palhart says:

      Yes, encouraging police brutality when we have had a spate of quiet on that racial front. Sessions wants to return to stiffer sentencing. They’ll ram their extreme law & order policies through even while Obama’s policies have helped lower crime. To hell with providing decent healthcare when we can begin funding a $1.6B border wall.

      • jane says:

        That Berlin Wall worked so well, didn’t it?? The Great Wall of China may have kept people out but Hadrian’s Wall that the Romans built sure didn’t keep out the Scots!!!

    • NW Luna says:

      Not all the cops agree with TRump:

  12. NW Luna says:

    Huh. If this is true, good on McCain (though he’s still no maverick).

    • Enheduanna says:

      Very interesting indeed. Thanks for finding this Luna. Maybe McCain ceases to give a FK anymore?