Sunday, July 30, 2017
Mack the Knife
It seems there was a delayed effect to the chip the Democratic doctor planted in McCain's head after removing his tumor. Despite giving a heroic speech on the Senate floor, it took most of the week for the maverick senator to buck his own party and turn his thumb down on the "skinny repeal" Mitch was sure he would get through Congress.
Best laid plans were laid to waste as the crestfallen Senate leader knew he would be getting a nasty call from the White House. How could he let the president down on this momentous occasion? The Vice President, who had been hovering around the Senate floor hoping to cast the deciding vote, was more sanguine, putting his arm around Susan Collins' shoulders and saying, "boy, are you tough." I suppose it could also be a good cop, bad cop routine with Trump soon repealing all federal money to Maine, Alaska and Arizona in the wake of this vote.
Collins got a hero's welcome back in Bangor with persons spontaneously cheering her arrival at the airport. She said that was the first time that happened to her.
As for McCain, he went from being goat to hero in the span of five days. He was the deciding vote to let this charade proceed, after he gave a big speech in which he stated this was no way to forge legislation. Lisa Murkowsky is the unsung hero, as she and Collins were the only two Republicans to try to stop Mitch's unorthodox attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act on day one.
The oddest part to me is how many other Republicans also spoke out against these repeal bills, notably Lindsey Graham, only to go along with the bills each and every time. Dear Lindsey had stated he would vote no to the "skinny repeal" until he was assured the House wouldn't try to tack any riders on it in a conference committee. But, Lindsey has always been one of those senators where no usually means yes.
All this drama really makes you wonder what the Republicans hoped to gain from these last minute theatrics. Even if they had passed the "skinny repeal" and gotten the House to accept it "as is," it would have been a very superficial victory. All it called for was a repeal of the individual mandates, which meant persons were no longer obligated to buy health insurance. The vast majority of the Affordable Care Act would have remained in tact.
They were able to repeal the Cadillac tax but that wasn't good enough for His Trumpness, who has vowed retribution by withholding payments to insurance companies, or "bailouts" as he calls them, unless the Senate reconvenes and votes one more time to repeal Obamacare. Needless to say, that isn't happening any time soon.
Virtually all of Trump's threats ring hollow and no one seems particularly scared of him. The Wall Street Journal was very harsh on the president, calling him a Drama Queen, as Peggy Noonan and others questioned his manliness. You really have to wonder how much longer this administration can survive, having failed to deliver on any of its signature promises, spending most of its time whining about how it is portrayed in the media.
As for McCain, this would be a great curtain call, retiring from the Senate as a "maverick." He wouldn't have to explain how he voted in line with Trump's positions 90% of the time the past six months. All people would remember is the knife he drove into the back of the President on the last vote of the session, scotching any attempts to repeal the ACA any time soon. Unfortunately, Mackie will probably stick around a while longer, with plenty of opportunities to ruin this great moment.