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Krugman: McCain Is the Problem, Not the Solution

The Arizona senator "has almost always been a reliable partisan yes-man."

Photo Credit: YouTube Screengrab

Senate Republicans were adamant this week about passing a health care bill that would repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act and subsequently strip health care away from tens of millions people.

In the midst of nail-biting Senate proceedings, Arizona Sen. John McCain was praised by many media pundits as a maverick for returning from a recent cancer diagnosis to participate in Senate proceedings. Except, as Paul Krugman notes in his latest New York Times column, McCain returned to become the deciding vote in pushing forward the health care bill debate—only to then turn around and deliver a “sanctimonious speech denouncing partisanship and divisiveness.”

Of course, McCain did vote no on the “skinny repeal” of the ACA during Senate proceedings late Thursday night, a somewhat redeeming action, Krugman notes.

In his latest column, Krugman tasks readers to “consider the awfulness of John McCain.” While it may be easy to criticize President Donald Trump for regularly degrading the office of the presidency and “naked partisans” like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Krugman writes that the public cannot overlook moderates like McCain:

“But none of what is happening right now would be possible without the acquiescence of politicians who pretend to be open-minded, decry partisanship, tut-tut about incivility and act as enablers for the extremists again and again. I started with McCain because so many journalists still fall for his pose as an independent-minded maverick, ignoring the reality that he has almost always been a reliable partisan yes-man whenever it matters."

Krugman goes on to criticize the GOP’s seven-year crusade against the Affordable Care Act, one that has failed at every attempt and revealed the GOP’s inability to craft health care policy beyond simply repealing a bill they don't like. Separate bills to replace, repeal and replace and even "skinny repeal" the ACA have all failed. On Thursday afternoon, hours before the Senate was to vote on an amendment that would resemble a “skinny” repeal of the ACA, a group of senators said they would only vote yes if doing so would send the bill to conference instead of passing it.

“You might ask, why not just vote no and try to come up with actually good policy?” Krugman asks. “Because, as they also know, Republicans don’t have any good policies to offer, so a bum’s rush is the only way they can pass anything.”

In addition to McCain, Krugman criticizes other GOP moderates like West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who gave lip service to the benefits of Medicaid and have promised not to hurt their constituents, only to turn around and support the Senate's harmful bill.

"Every other supposed moderate in the Senate has offered a profile in cowardice," Krugman writes.

Read the entire column.

Celisa Calacal is a junior writing fellow for AlterNet. She is a senior journalism major and legal studies minor at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York. Previously she worked at ThinkProgress and served as an editor for Ithaca College's student newspaper. Follow her at @celisa_mia.

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