Don’t celebrate John McCain’s No vote on healthcare just yet

Sen. John McCain and his favorite prop, the microphone

People are still celebrating Senator John McCain‘s “No” vote on the Republicans’ “Skinny Repeal” bill regarding the Affordable Care Act. Such celebrations may be premature.

Recall that, last Tuesday, during a procedural vote to move the GOP bill forward, McCain first criticized the process, then voted “Yes” to proceed to a full vote. Many Democrats attacked McCain as a heartless hypocrite for voting to move a bill forward that would deny healthcare to millions of people when McCain himself is receiving gold-plated healthcare for his brain cancer at taxpayer expense. Three days later, however, McCain cast one of three Republican votes against the bill, sending it to defeat. McCain’s dramatic “thumbs down” accompanying his “No” vote caused many observers to cast McCain as the “deciding vote,” although Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski were just as courageous in standing up to their party to vote “No.”

Afterward, there was an outpouring of support for John McCain, including hand-made “Thank You” signs placed along an Arizona road used by the McCain family. The problem is, McCain is someone whose words and actions both must be scrutinized, and in this case, McCain’s words do not provide much comfort that he is some bulwark against repealing the Affordable Care Act. In particular, on Tuesday when he criticized the Republican Senate process regarding the “Skinny Repeal” bill, McCain said:

I will — not — vote — for this bill as it is today. It’s a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state governor that will have to be included for my support of final passage of any bill.

McCain did not say he’d vote “No” on any GOP bill repealing, partially repealing or gutting the Affordable Care Act. Right now, his BFF Senator Lindsey Graham is working on a new proposal that would take away federal money for the ACA and give it to the states in block grants, which could torpedo the ACA (as well as Medicaid) in many areas. McCain is a fair bet to vote for something that Graham proposes. Accordingly, supporters of the Affordable Care Act should neither celebrate its survival nor John McCain’s “maverick” actions yet.

Photo by Marc Nozell, used under Creative Commons license.

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