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In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on July 24, 2017 at 2:44 pm

On July 14, Arizona’s United States Senator John McCain underwent a “minimally invasive” medical procedure at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix to remove a blood clot from above his left eye.

Soon afterward, his Senate office announced:

“Senator McCain received excellent treatment at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, and appreciates the tremendous professionalism and care by its doctors and staff.

“He is in good spirits and recovering comfortably at home with his family. On the advice of his doctors, Senator McCain will be recovering in Arizona next week.”

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John McCain

McCain, who has a fair complexion, has repeatedly battled melanoma, a sometimes-deadly form of skin cancer. In 2000, the year he ran for President against George W. Bush, he had a particularly serious episode.

When he ran again for President in 2008, he told reporters: “Like most Americans, I go to see my doctor fairly frequently.”

He has had at least four documented cases of melanoma.

Lost in the massive publicity of McCain’s latest brush with melanoma was the sheer irony of the situation.

McCain had “received excellent treatment at Mayo Clinic Hospital” at a time when he and his fellow Republicans were vigorously trying to repeal President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Barack Obama

The Act—nicknamed “Obamacare”—has provided access to healthcare to millions of poor and middle-class Americans who had previously been unable to afford it.

Since its becoming law on March 23, 2010, Republicans have declared it Public Enemy Number One and set out to repeal it. By March 2014 they had voted against it 54 times, trying to undo or substantially change it.

In October, 2013, they shut down the Federal Government for 15 days. They hoped to extort Obama into de-funding the ACA: If he did, they would re-open Federal agencies.

But, facing pressure from voters unable to obtain basic government services, Republicans backed down. 

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, every Republican candidate pledged to repeal Obamacare if s/he were elected.

Donald Trump—who won the Republican nomination and then the election—repeatedly made this the centerpiece of his campaign. 

On October 25, he promised: “My first day in office, I am going to ask Congress to put a bill on my desk getting rid of this disastrous law and replacing it with reforms that expand choice, freedom, affordability.”

McCain himself has repeatedly tried to restrict access to healthcare by ordinary Americans.

On January 29, 2009, he voted against the Childrens Health Insurance Program Reauthorization and Expansion.

This expanded State Children’s Health Insurance Program coverage from 6.6 million children to about 11 million children.

On December 24, 2009, he voted against the ACA. 

On February 2, 2011, McCain voted to repeal the ACA.

On July 26, 2015, McCain voted to repeal the ACA and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

On December 3, 2015, he voted for the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015.”

This would have gutted “Obamacare” by repealing the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the medical device excise tax, and the “Cadillac tax”” on expensive employee health insurance premiums.

It also included a measure to eliminate federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood for one year.

And what lay behind Republican efforts to “repeal and replace” the ACA?

Americans earning $5 million or more—those in the top 0.1%—would receive an average tax cut of nearly $250,000 in 2026, according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. Those earning $875,000 and more—those in the top 1%—would save $45,500 in taxes a year.

Appearing on the June 23 edition of the PBS Newshour, syndicated columnist Mark Shields said: “And what it is, the only thing that the House and the Senate are consistently faithful on is that it’s a major tax cut, It is a redistribution.

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David Brooks and Mark Shields

“Obama, who was, you know, if anything, overly moderate for many tastes, did, in fact, lay it on the most advantaged among us to pay, to cover people who couldn’t afford it in his plan. And a 3.8 percent tax on unearned income for those earning over a quarter of a million dollars became the rallying cry, the organizing principle for the opposition.

“And that’s the one constant that has been through it all. Warren Buffett, to his everlasting credit, pointed out that he will get a tax cut under the Republican plan this year of $630,000. That’s the redistribution.

“And, you know, in the richest nation in the history of the world, it is a terrible indictment, a sad commentary that the most vulnerable among us, the least—the least among us are really tossed off as a political statement.”

Speaking on the same program, David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times, said: “What it does—you ought to start with, what kind of country are we in? We’re in a country where—widening inequality.

“And so I think it’s possible to be a conservative and to support market mechanisms basically to redistribute wealth down to those who are suffering.

“This bill doesn’t do that. It goes the other way. So, I think, fundamentally, it doesn’t solve the basic problem our country has, which is a lot of people are extremely vulnerable.”

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