OPINION | McCain was right to block Senate's ObamaCare repeal plan
© Greg Nash

With a last-ditch gimmick to get a "quick win" on repealing and replacing ObamaCare, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCan the presidential candidates please talk about our debt crisis? Michelle Malkin knocks Cokie Roberts shortly after her death: 'One of the first guilty culprits of fake news' Arizona Democratic Party will hold vote to censure Sinema MORE (R-Ariz.) stood before his senate colleagues last week to deliver a classic speech on bipartisanship and parliamentary procedure. Casually mentioning his own existential health struggles with the bland understatement, “I look a little worse for the wear,” McCain displayed fortitude and valor that is rarely ever seen in Washington anymore.

President Trump famously insulted McCain early in his campaign, rejecting his war hero status because he was captured. It seems now that the captive has turned the table on the captor. By ceremoniously and conspicuously obstructing the president’s rushed agenda on health care, Trump received what many viewed as a justifiable comeuppance.

But McCain also did far more than that. He reminded our nation that in this time of extreme partisanship and rancor, we are failing to live up to our most cherished ideals. McCain is not a person whose positions are unknown. He has been a vociferous critic of ObamaCare's failures, including the parliamentary sleights of hand Democrats used in order to force its passage. (Chief among them was mischaracterization of the individual mandate as a "penalty" rather than a "tax.") He also railed against the sudden balloon in premiums for enrollees that resulted from faulty enrollment assumptions by the bill’s architects.


McCain is no fan of ObamaCare. But he is a fan of our democracy. His thirty years of service in the U.S. Senate, and before that his valiant service as a naval aviator and war hero, give him the credibility he needed to critique the process by which the attempted overhaul was made.


The bottom line is that Congress and the president tried to repeal ObamaCare on the cheap. It is all too apparent now. The states, including GOP-led states that had come to rely on the Medicaid expansion, would have been put in a lurch. GOP governors in those states would have paid a high price if expansion was removed without an adequate replacement. And the upside – an early win for the president in his first year – could not have compensated for the political fallout.

Let’s put party politics aside for the moment, and consider the effect of radically altering the healthcare environment on the American people. By CBO estimates, the Republican plan would have removed coverage from several million Americans. That is not what we ultimately wanted to achieve as a nation. We ultimately all want a situation in which Americans are healthy and productive, while enjoying a healthcare system that is robust and fiscally sound.

And that, as McCain rightly said, is going to require work. The arcane and deliberative rules of the Senate were designed by the Constitution’s framers to force broad consensus and incremental change. We are not a kingship, but a republic that stands united or falls in division. That is the grand bargain we struck when we declared ourselves a free people, and threw off the autocratic rule of the England’s monarchy.

By design, achieving the goal of democratic rule by, of, and for the people requires more than merely the stroke of a pen or an executive order. Winning is achieved, not merely, in the outcome of the legislation that is produced, but in the process by which legislation is produced.

McCain has long been a champion of the American people. He has dedicated and sacrificed his life and career to public service. There is no doubting that his motives are pure. And by sending us back to the drawing board on ObamaCare, by forcing us to come to grips with our shared destiny as Americans, McCain has perhaps performed his most valiant public service to date.

Armstrong Williams (@ARightSide) served as an adviser and spokesman for Dr. Ben Carson's 2016 presidential campaign. He is manager and sole owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year. He's on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly from 6:00-8:00pm EST.

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