Editorial: McCain lectures Senate - 'Stop listening to bombastic loudmouths'

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 -- Sen. John McCain's memorable speech Tuesday was a plea to his fellow members of Congress to set aside the bitter acrimony that has characterized their deliberations - most recently in the health care debate.

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CBC Editorial: Wednesday, July 26, 2017; Editorial # 8191
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

Sen. John McCain has brain cancer, a terminal illness. The nation is saddened by the news. The senator is in our thoughts and prayers.

He is recovering from recent surgery. He wants to get back to work so on Tuesday he left Arizona to be on the Senate floor for the healthcare vote.  He voted with 49 other Republicans ( including North Carolina's Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis) to open floor debate on healthcare.

It is hard to not notice what's at work here. It's almost surreal.

Sen. McCain's medical care will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. He has health insurance to cover it. Conversely, the only plans put forward so far by the Senate will take health insurance away from more than 20 million Americans.

If brain cancer appears in an uninsured family, they will be ruined and file for personal bankruptcy.

Sen. McCain made a memorable speech Tuesday from the well of the Senate. It was a plea to his fellow members of Congress to set aside the bitter acrimony that has characterized their deliberations in recent years – lately in the health care debate.

“They are more partisan, more tribal more of the time than any other time I remember,” McCain said of the recent development and Senate activity to deal with health care.

Bearing the fresh wounds from surgery and treatment for brain cancer, McCain spoke earnestly from the well of the Senate. “Right now they aren’t producing much for the American people.”

He’s right, of course. The latest plan being offered up by the Senate’s Republican leaders will not do much to make health care better, but rather result in denying health care to millions of Americans who now have it – including as many as 1.3 million North Carolinians.

McCain offered an obvious assessment that fellow members of his caucus have been in self-denial over: “We Republicans have looked for a way to end it and replace it with something else without paying a terrible political price. We haven’t found it yet, and I’m not sure we will.”

Playing to the crowd wasn’t getting anything done. “Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the Internet. To hell with them,” he said.

McCain said concocting plans behind closed doors wasn’t working.

“Why don’t we try the old way of legislating in the Senate, the way our rules and customs encourage us to act,” he said “… Let the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee … hold hearings, try to report a bill out of committee with contributions from both sides. Then bring it to the floor for amendment and debate, and see if we can pass something that will be imperfect, full of compromises, and not very pleasing to implacable partisans on either side, but that might provide workable solutions to problems Americans are struggling with today.”

In America today, there are thousands of people who face medical challenges like McCain’s. They struggle – not simply to find the best care but how to stay out of bankruptcy in the process. McCain is well aware that the leading cause of personal bankruptcy is the inability to pay medical bills.

Turning his back on campaign promises, President Donald Trump wants a “repeal” of Obamacare solely for the political victory he can claim – regardless of the cost to others most in need.

McCain’s plea for consensus, compromise and working for the common good will have to overcome an entrenched Senate leadership that doesn’t have any appetite for dealing outside the GOP. They seem focused on delivering a tax cut for the wealthy and health care only to those who already can afford it.

We would like to believe that senators weren’t merely voting Tuesday to get the health care monkey off their backs so they could head off to summer vacation.

We hope they will take McCain’s words to heart -- that they will resist desperation to pass anything and rather seize the opportunity to develop a program that provides health care to all those in need.

“There’s greater satisfaction in respecting our differences, but not letting them prevent agreements that don’t require abandonment of core principles, agreements made in good faith that help improve lives and protect the American people.”

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