Senator McCain spoke on the floor and echoed what we all know, politicians on both sides of the aisle are primarily interested in their own winning. This is not new. When I was in high school I wrote my first letter to the NY Times. It was a snarky response to Congress voting itself a pay raise. I also worked on the Hill when I was in college. There was less money in politics then and the media was not as focused on ratings and appealing to a certain base. Nonetheless, the business of Congress remained to get elected.
I admire the Senate Majority Leader’s ability to try to turn an extremely bad hand (most of it of his own making) into something that has an outside chance of passage. It will slightly please the President, whose sole focus seems to be about winning, or at least the appearance of winning, regardless of substance. For those in the House who he, like Obama, threw under the bus for their healthcare plans, it may salvage their need to be the party in Opposition, despite being the Governing Party. It is a nice trick, but it is beyond cynicism.
There are real healthcare issues that Americans face. Obamacare has not existed for years as the Republican Congress stripped a lot of the requisite funding from it, causing a number of insurers to fail (and later sue and win). This will continue on a regulatory basis in the cynical hope that there will be enough pain that the majority in Congress will be overlooked for failing to have a workable plan after 7+ years of griping. The Democrats for their part, while not invited to the dance, have sat on their hands and not established and promoted a plan to actually fix “Obamacare”. They too are playing for winning in 2018, regardless of the impact on their constituents. It is easy to be the Opposition party.
Congress and the President have very low public approval ratings except in their narrow gerrymandered districts. Americans across the spectrum of political interests would probably come together to support a law that would strip House Representatives and Senators (but not their staffs) of Federal health insurance that they receive. As they will likely move on to cut “entitlements”, they should also have their current pensions frozen and then prospectively terminated. Although there are many in Congress who are independently wealthy or whose spouses work in the government, lobby organizations or local business that offer employer group insurance, a message needs to be delivered that they are in the same shoes as their constituents when they change or take away benefits. This is not to discourage reform-but regulatory and fiscal. It is to rationalize it, and to make it less about winning.
In the meantime, I will have to go look for my high school letter to the NY Times. As Yogi Berra would say, it’s Deja Vu all over again.