Will John McCain Kill Tax Reform?

Fresh off getting its butt kicked in Virginia on Tuesday night, I warned the GOP that its defeat had less to do with the unpopularity of Donald Trump and more to do with the Senate’s utter inability to move anything that resembles a conservative agenda forward.  Their last big failure came courtesy of Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain, who torpedoed Obamacare repeal even after voting for it repeatedly while Barack Obama was president.  Now it seems that the World’s Greatest Deliberative Potty has moved on to strangling tax reform in the cradle, and guess who’s hands are doing the dirty work again?

As you might expect, Collins is also back on board to sabotage the GOP’s one last shot at redemption because she thinks it’s unconscionable that people shouln’t have to turn over half of their estates just because they kick the bucket.  Joining the list of usual suspects is Bob Corker, who after announcing his retirement from the Senate is in full kiss-my-ass mode and figures he might as well give Trump the finger on his way out.

Those two plus McCain equals three, which means only 49 GOP votes left—and no tax reform for you.

McCain is ostensibly applying the bipartisan standard, in which he says he can’t in good conscience vote for something that doesn’t have at least some Democrat support.  Would that the Democrats had paid him the same courtesy when they shoved Obamacare down the country’s throat without a single Republican vote.  It doesn’t really matter, though, because McCain doesn’t mean a word of it.  If he did, he would have voted for a clean repeal on principle, so that Democrats and Republicans could then craft a truly bipartisan solution for health care.  Instead, he’s content to saddle the country with an unsustainable  program that is causing real hurt for the middle class.

The same goes for taxes.  What we have right now is a hopelessly complicated system riddled with so many special interest carve outs and favors that nobody can possibly understand it, which also makes American business less competitive and incentivizes them to park mounds of cash overseas.  Reforming that system could bring that money back and unleash the power of the American economy, while giving real relief to people who haven’t seen their real wages rise in years.  As an added bonus, it would also rally voters back to the GOP and prove that it can actually get things done.

Instead, McCain would rather stick a finger in the eye of the president just because he can.

What he seems to forget—or maybe McCain just doesn’t care—is that there are millions of us out here in the country who will have to pay the price for his vindictiveness.  The GOP will also suffer—because if they fail yet again, it’s a virtual guarantee that what happened on Tuesday will repeat itself on a national scale.

Then again, maybe that’s all part of the plan.  Maybe the establishment is content with seeing the GOP majority wiped out, just so they can halt the Trump agenda and show him who’s really boss.  And if a Dem-controlled House votes to impeach him, so much the better.  That’s what an outsider gets for daring to shake up the Washington status quo.

The swamp will not be so easily drained.

When You’ve Lost Republicans On Fox News, You’ve Lost Middle America

President Trump’s comments about the Charlottesville riot have drawn condemnation from all quarters of the country. The true extent of the political damage to the president is not fully known at this point, but Fox News host Shepard Smith offered a clue. According to Smith, Fox News, a channel normally friendly to Trump and Republicans, could not find a single Republican to defend Trump’s statements on the air.

“Our booking team — and they’re good — reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today,” Smith said on his show Wednesday. “Let’s be honest, Republicans don’t often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that.”

“We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful,” Smith continued.

Throughout his short political career, the president has never had trouble finding Republicans to defend him. On issues from his connections to Russia to the Access Hollywood tape, there were always people willing to go on record to back Donald Trump and excuse his behavior.

While few, if any, Republicans are defending Trump, several are now condemning him by name. On Wednesday, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement, “Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham continued.

In a tweet, John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”

Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) launched a series of tweets in which he said that the white supremacist organizers of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville are “100% to blame for a number of reasons.”

“Mr. President,” Rubio tweeted, “you can’t allow White Supremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain.”

The list of other Republicans breaking with Trump on the issue is growing. CNN reports that it now includes Corey Gardner (R-Col.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and John Kasich (R-Ohio).

While Republicans have largely stood by the president since his nomination, Trump’s behavior is increasingly becoming a liability to Republicans who must face voters themselves. This is especially true when Trump veers into the emotionally charged world of race.

One of the few things that unites almost all Americans is a hatred for racism and Nazis. With his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides,” Trump has put his administration and the Republican Party firmly on the wrong side of the issue.

The proof is the lack of Republicans willing to back the president on Charlottesville. When Republicans won’t go on Fox News to defend President Trump, he is in serious trouble.

Johnson Suggests McCain’s Brain Tumor Affected His Health Care Vote – but Walks Back Statement

One senator suggested that John McCain’s brain tumor may have been a factor in his July vote against Obamacare repeal – remarks that he walked back just a day later. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told a radio host on Tuesday that McCain’s cancer, combined with the late night of debate and voting may have affected the Arizona Republican’s judgment.

“Again, I’m not going to speak for John McCain — he has a brain tumor right now — that vote occurred at 1:30 in the morning, some of that might have factored in,” Johnson said on AM560 “Chicago’s Morning Answer.”

Seemingly shocked, a radio host responded “really?” to Johnson’s comments and asked if he really believed McCain’s brain tumor might have factored into his judgment.

“Again, I-I-I don’t know exactly what — we really thought — and again I don’t want speak for any senator,” Johnson responded. “I really thought John was going to vote yes to send that to conference at 10:30 at night. By about 1, 1:30, he voted no. So you have talk to John in terms what was on his mind.”

A McCain spokesperson called Johnson’s remarks “bizarre and unfortunate,” and by Wednesday, Johnson was backtracking, stating that he was, “disappointed I didn’t more eloquently express my sympathy for what Sen. McCain is going through.”

He elaborated on CNN on Thursday when he told host Chris Cuomo:

 “I was just expressing sympathy for his condition. Again, I’ve got the greatest respect for John McCain. He’s not impaired in any way, shape or form.”

Johnson said he has reached out to McCain and hoped to speak with him soon.

McCain made a return to the Senate specifically to vote on Obamacare repeal after surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye, which led to the brain tumor diagnosis.

Was Johnson simply not artful in his remarks, or did he really believe that McCain’s judgment is clouded by his condition? It’s hard to say, but I’ll bet the first meeting between the two following this incident will be pretty awkward.

The Skinny On The Failure of Skinny Repeal


The last-ditch Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the so-called “Skinny Repeal,” went down in flames last night as expected. In truth, the Obamacare repeal effort has been dead for quite some time. The more recent repeal efforts represent the hopeless, zombie-like staggering of the GOP towards its goal of almost a decade.

It has been obvious for months that the repeal effort was doomed to failure. As soon as the dust settled from the election, we knew that the GOP would have less than the 60-vote majority required for cloture on a full repeal of the ACA.

With “repeal-and-replace” out the window, Republican leaders shifted to a reform model. The effort immediately drew fire from both wings of the Republican Party. A quartet of moderates from Medicaid expansion states lined up to oppose anything that threatened the Medicaid payouts. With only a two-vote majority in the Senate, this would have been enough to kill the reform bill, but conservatives also lined up to oppose the bill because it fell short of full repeal, which was already a mathematical impossibility.

Conservatives such as Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were eventually won over to support the compromise reform effort. Moderates Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Corey Gardner (R-Col.) also dropped their opposition to the bill.

The Republican “nays” who joined every Democrat in voting against the Skinny Repeal were two of the usual suspects, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine). The third was GOP maverick John McCain (R-Ariz.) who explained his vote against the “shell of a bill” by arguing in a statement  that the bill, written in secret, wouldn’t actually improve the health insurance crisis gripping much of the country.

McCain will be pilloried for his vote, but to some extent he was right. No one, not even those who voted for it, think Skinny Repeal was a good bill. As Phillip Klein of the Washington Examiner described, the bill left the regulatory framework of Obamacare in place while eliminating the individual mandate. The result would most likely have been to increase the Obamacare death spiral rather than fixing it.
The worst part is that Collins and Murkowski could not even be persuaded to join their colleagues in such a watered-down bill. One has to wonder exactly what kind of health care bill, if any, that the pair would give their assent to.
Throughout the entire process, President Trump, a man who has repeatedly said that he wants universal healthcare, has been mostly AWOL. While Congress debated and dithered, the president spent his time tweeting and hurling insults at Jeff Sessions. To the surprise of few, this approach failed to swing votes to support the bill. In spite of the president’s alleged prowess at deal-making, his main role in the legislative process was to threaten to support a primary challenge against Nevada senator, Dean Heller.
At this point, Republicans have two choices. The first is to offer some concessions to Democrats to craft a bill with broader support. Such tactics will fall short of full repeal, but may help to fix at least some of Obamacare’s problems. It might even convince Collins and Murkowski to vote “yes.” Who knows?
The other alternative is to harden the party’s divisions with another of the circular firing squads so common in the wake of GOP defeats (and victories as well, for that matter). That will mean that Obamacare remains fully intact while Republicans wait on voters to grant them a supermajority (plus two more to offset Collins and Murkowski). In the meantime, Americans will suffer under Obamacare’s high premiums, few choices and the individual mandate. Never mind that voters are unlikely to give Republicans more power if they can’t get anything done with the power that they already have.
Some will say that Democrats win when Republicans offer a compromise, but it is the second scenario where Democrats really win. Obamacare will remain in place for the foreseeable future and Barack Obama’s legacy will be secure.
What most voters really want is for the two parties to work together to solve problems. Unfortunately, the current model has the country lurching from one-party rule to stalemate and back again as each party plays to its base and ignores moderates and independents. If neither party is willing to work with the other to get things done for the good of the country, then voters should consider firing them both.

In Which John McCain Saves America From Filthy Cowards

Any Republican who votes against what John McCain, forgotten hero of a forgotten war in Vietnam, raised himself out of his own personal cancer battle to fly to Washington, descend into a pit of vipers and personally support, is a shameful filthy coward.

Today, America finally welcomes its real hero in a town particularly bereft of heroes. Sen. John McCain returns to rally the GOP, and hopefully, save America.

John McCain: carrier jet pilot, Navy Captain, disabled American veteran, prisoner of war, Vietnam veteran, U.S. senator, former GOP nominee for President of the United States, American hero. He will finally be welcomed in a town that spent decades deriding him.

His appearance could not be more timely. The Senate will vote on something today–either a naked repeal of Obamacare, or some version of the troubled BCRA. But in order to even get there, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 50 votes to begin debate on the reconciliation bill from the House. McCain is likely the 50th vote.

Who would vote “no” with him in the chamber? In Washington, imagery is everything, and nobody–nobody–wants to be labeled the jerk who sent McCain home to die of cancer. If it’s possible for a GOP senator to be less popular than Great Ormond Street hospital, that would do it.

Sympathy, however will only get you so far. Yes, the 80-year-old has endured insults and death wishes, and even hard-hearted Democrats know that he is the best rallying cry the GOP possesses this day.

No, Mr. Corn, you pig, you miserable vomitous mass. It’s conceivable that the GOP has already laid down to die because it lacks the strength to keep even the weakest of campaign promises. It’s possible that Obamacare will never be repealed, like disgraced and ousted John Boehner thinks.

But maybe they do have something left.

It’s possible that McCain will save America from the hell of single-payer insurance that Democrats have already begun preparing. Sens. Gillibrand, Warren, Baldwin and Booker are like vultures gathering over a corpse to feast on its bloated flesh.

If they fail–the very instant Obamacare’s repeal fails, watch them circle around Schumer and the White House to move Trump into full-cooperation mode. Then America will have its own Charlie Gard.

Any Republican who votes against what John McCain, forgotten hero of a forgotten war in Vietnam, raised himself out of his own personal cancer battle to fly to Washington, descend into a pit of vipers and personally support, is a shameful filthy coward.

It’s possible that all the pundits are right and that this is a dead issue.

But John McCain doesn’t think so. The GOP might be dead as a doornail, and any chance at repealing Obamacare might be as far-fetched as President Trump becoming humble.

I’d rather believe that heroes still exist, and that John McCain, being one, will save the day, and America.


Jerk College Professor Hates on Cancer Victim John McCain

In this world there are genuine human beings who care about their fellow man no matter what. They pray for or send well wishes to those in need, regardless of common ground or similar beliefs or ideas, and they don’t let political pettiness get in the way of decency.

And then there are people like Jonathan Graubart. The political science professor at San Diego State University published a Facebook post on Friday (now deleted) expressing his anger and dismay at the fact that people of all political persuasions wished Senator John McCain (R-AZ) well as he faces cancer.

Here’s a sampling of what Graubart wrote:

“McCain is a war criminal and, more to the point. someone who as a politician has championed horrifying actions and been lousy on state commitment to public health,” said Graubart, an associate professor of political science. “I have no idea what he is like on the personal level and don’t care.”

I’m willing to bet you’re thinking what I’m thinking: Graubart is a jerk – or maybe you used even stronger language. You’re not alone. In fact, Graubart received an outpouring of negative comments on his post (apparently enough to delete it eventually), including one that gets right to the point:

One Facebook user identifying as a student at SDSU called him out, saying, “Let’s be real. You are annoyed by the outpouring of support for John McCain in the wake of his cancer diagnosis because you don’t like him.”

San Diego State University issued a statement in which the school tried to distance itself from Graubart’s terrible rant.

SDSU does not have a social media policy for faculty and staff. As a public institution, we do not and cannot regulate the private speech of students, faculty or staff. However, that should not imply the university’s endorsement of any particular viewpoint.

I would like to think that conservatives wouldn’t behave this way, but in our increasingly tribal and divisive culture that’s not the case anymore. Thoughtful people of all political stripes should call Jonathan Graubart out for his lack of decency, even though he has every right to say what was on his mind. The great thing about free speech is that we’re also free to call him a jerk.

Don’t Forget to Pray for John McCain

It should go without saying that some issues transcend and override partisanship. Brain cancer should be one of them. It’s terrible that we live in an age when that even needs to be said.

Senator McCain is a war hero. He is a fine man with whom each of us has had disagreements. He is also one of the few people in Washington with a consistent record against wasteful spending and was opposed to earmarks well before the Tea Party ever existed.

Beyond all that, Senator McCain is a husband, a father, and a friend to many. He has fought many a great fight and this will be another fight he must tackle. I have no doubt that those of us of faith can help him through our prayers — to give his doctors wisdom, his family comfort, and him both peace and strength.

I hope you will pray for Senator McCain.

Experts Say McCain’s Recovery May Take Longer Than Initially Expected (and of Course It’s a Political Issue)

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) underwent surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye last week, and his office initially said that the 80-year-old would take a week to recover before turning to Washington.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already planned on delaying the health care vote by a week to allow McCain to get back to Washington, but some experts are saying that the senator’s procedure, called a craniotomy, may require a longer recovery than initially expected.

A craniotomy is an opening of the skull, and an eyebrow incision would be used to reach a clot in or near the left frontal lobes of the brain, neurosurgeons who were not involved in Mr. McCain’s care said.

“Usually, a blood clot in this area would be a very concerning issue,” said Dr. Nrupen Baxi, an assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

He added, “The recovery time from a craniotomy is usually a few weeks.”

The New York Times has mused about the symptoms that may have led to McCain’s doctors ordering the surgery, suggesting that the senator’s odd behavior during the James Comey hearings may have led to suspicion of a problem in the brain. McCain’s history of melanoma also could have been cause for concern.

It didn’t take long for jerks to politicize the senator’s recovery. When the senator’s son Jack wished his dad well on Twitter…


…the “it must be nice to have health care when Obamacare might go away” crowd wasted no time in turning a war hero’s recovery into a political issue.

The whole exchange blew Jack McCain’s mind.


All politics aside, continue to pray for Senator McCain as he recovers.