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An American Hero


This blog is proud to have always recognized and admired John McCain’s fiercely independent statesmanship.

…Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski deserve a lot of credit too. Deserving even more are every member of the Democratic caucus, who were unwaveringly opposed. And the most credit goes to ordinary citizens who went to the streets, called, and wrote, and made this bill politically toxic. Cheers. The war for universal healthcare is far from over, but this is a huge win for the American people.

…I promise you I will never get tired of watching this:

McConnell grimly staring at the floor, refusing to look at McCain? The giddy expressions from Bernie and Gillibrand as they realize one of the most reprehensible bills with a serious chance of being passed by the United States Congress is dead? [Italian chef’s kiss]

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  • Thom

    So do we think it really dead now?

    • Aaron Morrow

      If today() = undead.

      • D. C. Sessions

        There’s also next year to try again.

        • Yeah, but, as I understand things, they can only use reconciliation for healthcare or tax reform, so they have to choose one for the next fiscal year. And they do want to do tax reform.

          • jlk7e

            Tax reform was in this year’s reconciliation, no?

            • Aaron Morrow

              Health care is in the FY17 budget; the plan was to do tax reform in the FY18 budget.

              Tax reform could also overturn the ACA taxes, right?

              • D. C. Sessions

                It’s a baseline thing. They need the healthcare taxes cleared to make way for the others.

                • NonyNony

                  It’s all really complicated, but from what I’ve pieced together:

                  * They were trying to do healthcare deform on the FY17 budget so they could use FY17 reconciliation and save the FY18 reconciliation for their tax cuts.
                  * They also wanted to reduce healthcare outlays to make it easier to cut taxes using reconciliation. If they cut spending up front, then there’s more room in the budget for cutting taxes.
                  * All of this has to be under reconciliation rules because Paul Ryan refuses to work with Democrats on anything and Mitch McConnell has made the Senate so toxic that even conservative Democrats are worried that working with him will hurt their re-election chances. Trump being president only makes that last one worse. (Also because the crazier parts of the GOP want things that conservative Dems would not sign-on for, and neither McConnell nor Ryan want to say no to their respective crazy caucuses)

                • Aaron Morrow

                  Ryan announced yesterday that the border adjustment tax is dead. Baselines may not matter without pay-fors.

  • Drew

    Wow. I woke up this morning expecting to see the bad news. I turned off news alerts on my phone because I can’t take them anymore. I saw this post and figured it was satire.

    Well. Thanks McCain. I mean…what an oddball. Did he just want to give a dramatic middle finger to Trump? Whatever. A No is a No.

  • Denverite

    I hope McCain bought Heller dinner before he fucked him over so thoroughly.

    • Leigh Grossman

      What’s odd is that Heller didn’t change his vote when the outcome was clear (or McConnell didn’t release him).

  • Drew

    I mean, why did he even vote yes on the motion to proceed? Did he just want to fuck with Trump and then pull the rug out at the last minute?

    • Robbert

      It does look like that to me. It looks like he just wanted to give McConnell/Trump the biggest poke in the eye possible, and the GOP’s defeat is so much more thorough and embarassing now, after three defeated bills, than it would have been had this thing stalled at the MTP stage.

      • Drew

        I wonder if it has to do with Cornyn and mcconnell muscling him to fly back. Maybe he thought “all right assholes, I’ll fly back and vote…”

        Nah, he wanted the attention. But I’ll take it.

    • Because now he looks even more the hero. He built up the tension even higher, then charged in to save the day.

      Plus, who knows? Maybe he was prepared to vote for it until Trump unleashed his tirade against Transgender people, and this was telling Trump to politely go fuck himself.

      • N__B

        Because everyone loves arsonist firefighters, right?

        • Check the news headlines for your answer.

      • DJ

        Or, as long as we’re dwelling in political fantasy here, maybe Scaramucci’s expletive-laden phone call to the New Yorker was the straw that finally broke McCain’s back, and he decided it was time to put an end to Congress’s enabling of the worst president in history.

        I think that everyone, McConnell included, suspected that there was likely to be a third “nay” vote in the end. It was just a question of which Senator was going to be tasked with casting the vote. McConnell et al surely hoped they could embarrass or cajole them to drop the opposition, but Trump, whom we all know is the greatest negotiator evar, just put his foot in his mouth repeatedly throughout the entire process (threatening Murkowski, for example). Regardless of the specific Trumpian blunder, it’s fair to say that the fool-in-chief is the primary reason the “gang of four” stuck to their guns and cast their one no vote to kill it.

        • Donald Trump, King of the dimwits and trolls.

      • Drew

        Does McCain give a shit about transgender issues though? I bet he still hates Trump over the shit he said two years ago now.

        • Whatever the motivation, I’ll take it today.

          • Drew


        • D. C. Sessions

          That’s a definite “maybe.” He can’t be happy that Trump is trying to tweet the blame onto the Services, who deny that the subject ever came up — and who instead report that the working people at the pointy end are delighted to serve with the trans folk among them.

          If there’s one thing McCain is sincere about (other than worshipping the ambitions of John McCain) it’s guarding the Services’ backs — and, to be fair, that includes the people out there on the sharp end.

      • NonyNony

        I stand by my belief that he was prepared to vote for it until he was up on that stage with Graham, Johnson and Cassidy begging Paul Ryan to promise that the House wouldn’t just pass the shitburger that the Senate was voting on and would guarantee a conference.

        That had to grate on the man. Especially when the House then refused to give any such guarantee. Probably made him very angry at McConnell, who should never have put them into that position in the first place.

    • D. C. Sessions

      This way it’s dead rather than just delayed. Granted, that doesn’t mean what it once did when they actually, like, held hearings and all that but still …

    • jlk7e


  • narciblog

    Collins and Murkowski have been pretty steadfast and against this bill since early days. They got the brunt of the abuse, threats, and even nearly even challenged to a duel. So, very magnanimous of you to say oh yeah I guess they deserve some credit too.

    • Taylor

      I give Murkowski credit for doing the right thing by her constituents. This is the only profile in courage that I see.

      Collins obviously got a pass by McConnell, to burnish her fake moderate credentials for her run for governor.

      McCain got to give the shiv to Trump and McConnell, at the cost of getting a tongue bath from our political media. Hooray for him.

      • jlk7e

        If she really just had a pass, she’d have voted yes after McCain defected.

        • D. C. Sessions

          She’d already voted before McCain.

          • jlk7e

            She knew McCain was going to vote no.

          • Leigh Grossman

            Doesn’t matter that she already voted – senators can change votes up until the vote closes and they were holding it open while trying to browbeat someone into changing votes.

      • NonyNony

        I don’t think Collins “got a pass” so much as McConnell knew he needed to win this vote without her. He’d written her off, not given her a pass.

        And he knew he needed to write her off because she’s sick of his shit and has eyes on the governor’s mansion. She’s not carrying his water on things that are so far outside of her own ambitions and he knows it.

    • N__B

      Murkowski apparently spent some time working on McCain last night. Good for her.

  • SomeTreasonBrewing

    Question about process: the whole practicality of this effort revolved around it being part of budget reconciliation, and thereby only needing 50 votes to pass (with Pence coming out of the coffin when needed). They needed to do it this way and do it first, so that they could do tax reform next (which they can still do).

    How long do they have to wait to try something like this again? Next year? Next Congress (2018)? All other substantive efforts would need to get to 60 votes, correct? Unless McConnell wants to kill all filibusters forever…

    • D. C. Sessions

      After this week’s “pass a blank sheet of paper and let the House write the bill so it’s technically a conference committee report” maneuver, McConnell is obviously so desperate there’s really no saying what he won’t do.

      • At what point do they realize they’re just saddling themselves with awful vote records the Dems can campaign with and still not “repealing” in any sense meaningful to their psycho donors and base?

        It also seems like there’s bad blood brewing between McConnell/Trump and Murkowski/Collins, either of them could jump ship a la Arlan Spector.

        • Drew

          *fingers crossed*

          Might not be a bad move for Collins in Maine. Become an independent and caucus with Dems. Maine’s elected a couple of independents in the recent past, including her fellow senator King.

        • D. C. Sessions

          Murkowski is rapidly running out of shits to give.

          Collins? She wants to run for Governor, and after the current disaster the Republican brand is not terribly helpful. However, the Republican disaster won twice on plurality when the Democrats insisted on splitting the vote so coming in as a Republican-lite independent might not be a brilliant move either.

          • Richard Gadsden

            Maine is IRV now, so she can run as a GOP-lite independent, pull over enough centrist Dems to beat whatever Teahadi the GOP officially nominates and then watch the entire GOP vote transfer to her.

            • Maine is not IRV now. The state supreme court declared it unconstitutional.

              • Richard Gadsden

                Oh. Damn. Missed that.

        • NonyNony

          Murkowski is not going to give up her position as Chair of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Especially while Trump and his proxies in Interior are threatening Alaska. She might be willing to give the finger to McConnell, but she’ll remain a Republican, vote party line on most votes, and keep that Chair position.

          Collins is a bit more iffy – her Chair isn’t nearly as powerful for her constituents. Still I don’t see her abandoning the GOP until just before she makes her gubernatorial run – at that point it might make sense to skip the primary and run as a moderate independent so she doesn’t have to kill her credibility by pandering to the worst of the dregs that the GOP has to pander to to win elections these days.

          • Richard Gadsden

            … and they’d need a third to flip control of the Senate.

            Very tempting to agree to switch to being independent caucusing with the Democrats, like King and Sanders, if they could keep their committee Chairs by flipping control of the Senate (and I think Schumer would do that deal). But I don’t see there’s a third anywhere.

            • Aaron Morrow

              Heller’s seat just went from toss-up to Edge Democratic. Flake’s seat is a toss-up, so there you go.

              • mds

                Yeah, but that wouldn’t matter until January 2019, and would require Dems to go +1 (for Collins and Murkowski to flip control) or +2 (for just one of them) in the midterms. And even if Collins stays in the Senate, neither she nor Murkowski is going to pull the trigger on leaving the caucus until they see the lay of the land after the 2018 elections.

                … Or did you mean that Heller or Flake might help switch the chamber to majority D? HahahahahahahahahahaNo. Please don’t be taken in by the MSM’s declaration of who’s actually a “moderate.” Hey, maybe Ted Cruz will start caucusing with the Dems, too.

  • Karen

    Cox’s Law of Trump-Era Politics: Whichever possible result sounds most like a bad TV script is the one that will actually happen.

  • Rob in CT

    When I say “root for injuries” this is what I mean! Ahhhhhh.

  • Steve LaBonne

    Wow. I too have to eat a lot of words I have said about McCain, and right now they’re pretty damn tasty.

    • Drew

      Whatever his reasons, a no is a no.

  • Drew

    I love Gillibrand hitting her desk and jumping up. That would’ve been my reaction too.

    • N__B

      She at her best when she’s at her least filtered.

  • Lurking Canadian

    I have never in my life wanted to watch a Sunday morning news show, but I kinda want to see them this week. McCain will be on every one basking in the admiration of the galaxy. I wonder if this is just a one shot fuck You from him, or the opening offensive in some kind of last ditch campaign to wrest his soul from the jaws of Beelzebub.

    As much a I hated all the private holds and cloakroom deals and fierce independents of the old-style oldest deliberative body, that old greasy snake pit would be great to have in the era of Trump.

  • Drew

    So Heller is dead to Sandoval now. That should be fun to watch next year.

  • So, I really do want to give McCain full credit. He stopped an insane disaster from happenings. Most of his caucus didn’t so vote.

    But somewhere between 20 to 98% of my positive feelings are due to the surprise and relief at this truly unexpected behavior. And given that voting against everything in the shit show was the trivially obvious right decision from nigh every dimension (procedural, substantial omg substantial…that was a vote to screw the country in astonishing ways, and even net politics) and McCain can be made to pay not a thing for this. He is as safe as safe can be, it’s just wacko that he should be lauded as if the demon he wrestled with was anything other than his normal nature.

    This is a kind of normalization of bad behavior.

    So, thanks McCain for doing the trivially obvious right thing when it cost you nothing and you had voted wrong literally every step of the way until the end.

    • N__B

      “When did you stop hitting your constituents?”

    • NonyNony

      On the one hand I absolutely agree with everything you said.

      On the other, McCain just sucker-punched McConnell in the gut. Then kicked him when he was done.

      Despite the fact that the obvious vote for human decency was a no, and the obvious vote for anyone of any intelligence was also a no, I’m still going to applaud him. Not for doing the bare minimum that a Senator and human being should be capable of, but for pulling the rug out from Mitch McConnell and showing him to be one of the worst Majority Leaders the Senate has had to date. (This loss was all his. And it was an own-goal. He didn’t have to do it this way, but he did. And I suspect that McCain was punishing McConnell for his arrogance with that vote rather than choosing to do the right thing for the right reasons.)

      • kvs

        McCain just believes in the moral philosophies where good acts by bad people are more moral than those by people who always do the right thing. That is, he would so believe if he believed in anything other than what will get him the most press coverage.

      • On one level, motives don’t matter. The substantive outcome is good and the slapping of McConnell’s face is both delightful and useful. So yay! Genuine yay.

        I’m not so convinced that McCain was trying to screw McConnell per se. I’m still hugely confused by his vote on the BCRA. Why not vote “no” there? Other senators did. None of his earlier votes affected what was to happen next. I guess it might have been a little less dramatic, but also less bizarro.

        The easy interpretation is that he voted for the first two because he’d be ok with those going to conference OR being passed but he couldn’t accept voting for something that shouldn’t be passed just to subvert regular order and get it to conference WITHOUT some solid assurances that it would go to conference. The assurance were super weak so he killed it.

        If he’d voted against the motion to proceed would it have been so much less a slap in the face to McConnell? It would have save many other people sleepless nights they didn’t deserve.

      • Oh and here’s a different thought. If we’re going form 11 dimensional chess, maybe this was McCain taking one for the team.

        Skinny repeal was genuinely scary policy. Not as bad as not raising the debt ceiling but in the same order of magnitude. But not passing something fucked them with their base.

        This way they get some credit with the bad and have a scapegoat for the failure and have destroyed the country. McCain never runs again and gets to preen in public. Win win.

    • Uncle_Ebeneezer

      Just quoted this on my FB page. Agreed 100%

  • allin58

    OK. I’m shocked. But in retrospect this is a big Win-win for McCain.
    He looks like the hero, gets lots of publicity and sticks it to “I like my heroes not captured” Trump. I think this could be a sign he’s taking Trump on full.

    • NonyNony

      I don’t think this was about Trump. I think this was about McConnell. McCain’s little speech the other day when he voted on the Motion to Proceed could be read as a dig at McConnell’s lack of leadership for the past 7 years. I didn’t read it that way at the time because I wasn’t feeling charitable to McCain due to his past history, but now I wonder.

      I think he got mad at the situation that McConnell has forced the Senate GOP into. McConnell’s “part of no” strategy has not worked at all if you think about it. It started as a way to make Obama a one-term president, and that failed. It continued for another 4 years and it got Donald Trump to be the nominee and then the president of the US.

      So what did Republicans in the Senate get out of it? They get Donald Trump as president, which McCain considers a loss. It also burned all bridges with any conservative-leaning Dems who just 10 years ago during the W administration could be compromised with to get incremental Republican agenda items passed. Not anymore – they couldn’t even attempt to reach out to Manchin or McCaskill or Donnelly because McConnell’s strategy made working with Republicans impossible for them.

      If you look at it like that and think of McCain as the kind of guy who wants to get credit for “doing stuff” and “working across the aisle”, you can see how he might be very angry with Mitch McConnell right now. And having him fly back from surgery and cancer therapy to vote on a bill that hadn’t been written yet might very well have been the final straw.

      • allin58

        I have to agree with that. The Trump part was probably just icing on the cake. Either way I’ll take it.

        • Hogan

          Senators never do anything for only one reason.

  • sk7326

    It is amazing that the Democrats so focused on the Russia nothingburger found the time to resist this bill.

    • PressSecretaryCaptainHowdy

      McCarthyism is a devious and cunning evil, indeed.

  • Thom

    Let it not be forgotten that McCain voted for BCRA earlier in the week. Krugman:

    “McCain has been a crucial enabler of the Senate’s shame — and a world-class hypocrite to boot. On Tuesday, he cast the decisive vote allowing this whole process to proceed, with no Democratic votes. Then he gave a sanctimonious speech denouncing partisanship and divisiveness, and declared that while he voted to allow debate to begin, he would never vote for the existing Senate bill without major changes.

    And later that day, he voted for that very bill, even though, you guessed it, it hadn’t changed in any significant way.”

  • sk7326

    Also, credit to Obama for his non-involvement … would have been easy for someone with so much legacy-wise at stake to get in front of it … but he, his aides (correctly I think) knew that would only muck things up.

  • malraux

    I do wonder if McCain was voting to save the committee system. Had this passed like this, dems would absolutely be justified in pushing a massive single payer through the same method.

    Seriously, I’ve seen several legislators this year fuck things up by bypassing the committee system and it’s hurt them every time.

    • NonyNony

      I honestly was appalled at the idea that he and Graham were going to vote for this bill while begging the House not to pass it as is. That isn’t how this is supposed to work – you’re supposed to send the House something you can live with and hope that negotiations don’t make it something you can’t live with. You don’t send them something you can’t live with and hope they make it better.

      The fact that these two longterm Senators were planning to abdicate their responsibility to the House while begging Paul Ryan to not pass it just gobsmacked me. They know how this works – the fact that there wasn’t a committee or hearings or any of that should have killed the Motion to Proceed in the first place – they were all abdicating their power and responsibility as Senators in the hopes that someone else would do their homework for them. It’s appalling to see that in college students, and bad enough when it’s the idiots in the House doing it, but somehow it’s worse when it’s Senators.

      • Rob in CT

        …and Graham voted for it anyway.

        Which is why his “holy hell to pay” remark about Trump possibly firing Sessions is meaningless, IMO.

        • NonyNony

          He knew that McCain was voting no. If anyone in that chamber knew that McCain was voting no it was Graham.

          That makes him worse in my eyes. He could have safely voted no knowing it was going down in flames anyway, but he pretended to be the good soldier because he knew is buddy had his back.

          • N__B

            Unlike McCain, he expects to run for reelection and he doesn’t want (more) enemies with his party.

            I don’t say that to excuse his weaselness, just to explain it.

      • malraux

        The fact that they tried 3 separate types of bills within days of each other really dives home how divided the republicans are. Either we gut medicaid or we gut the exchanges, or something else. But there wasn’t any sort of deliberative work to find a consensus and work it forward.

        • Cheap Wino

          It’s difficult for them because they aren’t animated by providing health care (you know, governing), only by opposition to Obama’s signature achievement. When you consider that legislation was itself hamstrung by GOP policy considerations there’s nothing really left for them. Seven years of demagoguery was just that, there was never any governing policy behind it. I’ve said this before but the whole situation is like the dog catching the car — no idea what they would do if they actually got a real chance to act.

  • Joe Paulson

    Who is that laughing woman with glasses at the desk with a yellow top? She seems happy.

    • Thom

      Must be the Old Laughing Lady.

  • Drew
  • Aaron Morrow

    I’d like to thank all of the health care, liberal and Democratic players who helped create the initial environment that got Collins and Murkowski to stay against the entire process, and create the firestorm in social media against McCain’s vote to start the process so loud and so quickly. Even the non-news sites I read were either pointing to people attacking McCain or making fun of him themselves.

    Here’s to Collins and Murkowski for standing strong against the entire mess, and here’s to McCain for loving good press.

    • Rob in CT

      Here’s to Collins and Murkowski for standing strong against the entire mess, and here’s to McCain for loving good press.

      Oh, well done.

      • Aaron Morrow

        Eh, I apologize for not reading Lemieux’s update where he basically says the same thing.

        Also, remember to tip your waiters health care, liberal and Democratic players (when possible, appropriate to your budget, etc.).

        • mds

          Lemieux’s version doesn’t rhyme, though.

  • Rob in CT

    After reading the Jilani mockery thread, I decided to check Jacobin. Not impressed. In fact, I don’t see anything there about the healthcare battle. Two posts mocking/ripping A Better Deal (“we don’t want a better deal, we want socialism” is the headline of one and really, what could be more Our Leftist Betters than that?), but nothing on the GOP trying to rip up or undermine the ACA.

    • D. C. Sessions

      Why do you expect Jacobin to congratulate the Republicans for trying but failing to do the right thing? That is so not them.

    • mds

      I mean, there are still days when I want socialism. But I’ll take a better deal in the meantime, even if it slows the momentum for Socialist Utopia. Because it also slows the momentum for Grim Meathook Future, which I currently consider a slightly more plausible outcome. I guess I just like how adorable a small weevil looks.

  • Mr_Six
  • Origami Isopod

    Not sure I’ll get through this whole thread, so apologies if this has already been posted.


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