McCain May Sink Obamacare and Screw America After All

For those of you on tenterhooks concerning the disastrous new GOP tax bill, your worrying is about to get worse: John McCain, the deciding vote in killing the last two GOP attempts to destroy Obamacare, just announced he will support this bill today, saying:

“I believe this legislation, though far from perfect, would enhance American competitiveness, boost the economy, and provide long overdue tax relief for middle class families…This is not a perfect bill, but it is one that would deliver much-needed reform to our tax code, grow the economy, and help Americans keep more of their hard-earned money.”

This is a hypocritical maneuver from the Arizona Senator. Last July, he had reclaimed his mantle as a political maverick for killing his party’s strident efforts to repeal the ACA with a bill mostly written in secret that didn’t receive a CBO score until the 11th hour. Thanks to his nay vote, as well as those of fellow Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, the bill died on the Senate floor. The trio also killed another attempt at ACA repeal last September, when Mitch McConnell realized that, without their support, he wouldn’t have the votes to bring it to a debate.

But now McCain says he will support the GOP’s newest stab at undoing the Obama Administration’s signature legislative achievement. This bill, also written in secret and given limited debate time on the Senate floor, will, according to this strongly worded article in The Washington Post, eliminate the individual mandate, causing 13 million Americans to lose their health insurance. And, contrary to McCain’s statement that it will “provide tax relief” for the middle class, it is little more than a love letter to the 1%, with several provisions that would benefit them. These include a repeal of the estate tax, elimination of deductions on state and local taxes, repealing the Alternate Minimum Tax, and reducing business owner’s corporate tax from 39.9% to 25%. 

If the bill passes with all of these provisions and you’re in the middle class, you’re screwed. 62% of Americans may get a tax break of $100.00 in 2019, but if you’re one of the 38% of Americans who don’t, your taxes will either stay the same, or be raised. Only 44% of taxpayers will see a reduction of $500.00 in their 2019 taxes, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, and tax cuts for individuals will be gutted by 2026. The GOP doesn’t want to hear this: they would rather propagate the myth that trickle down economics are good for the middle and lower classes. Public servants like John McCain should be aware how insidious this lie really is.

Trickle-down economics first became the GOP standard in the 1920s, when Congress passed President Coolidge’s Revenue Acts of 1924 and 1926. Before they were passed, the wealthiest Americans were taxed at a 75% rate; by the end of the 20s, they were paying at a 25% rate. The bills eliminated or reduced inheritance and luxury taxes, leaving them wealthier than ever before – and ultimately, plunging our country into the Great Depression. The GOP should have abandoned the notion that this helped the economy right then and there, but it came roaring back into public life when President Reagan, who cited Coolidge as a role model, repeatedly cut taxes for the wealthy and left office with a deficit of more than a trillion dollars. 

McCain, who lived to see the effects of trickle-down economics in the 1930s and voted to uphold them in the 1980s, should know better. Then again, he has never taken a moderate position that he’d back off from if pressured by GOP insect overlords. In this devastating 2010 Vanity Fair profile, “The Man Who Never Was,” writer Todd S. Purdum outlines all the ways the so-called Maverick has compromised his image as a symbol of bipartisanship throughout his career. He has done so again today, as the many Americans thankful for his nay vote last July may have him to blame for their woes in the years to come should his party emerge victorious this week. 

Thankfully, there are still a number of Republican Senators who have expressed concerns with the bill, including Susan Collins. If you live in one of their states, call their offices today and demand they fight for your rights. Republicans like McCain were not elected to only represent the wealthy, nor were they elected only to represent the people in their state – they were elected to represent the United States, and their vote will affect me in New York as much as it will affect you if you live in Florida, Maine, or Wisconsin. Get on the phones and stop it. 

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Jeremy Fassler is a writer and journalist living in Brooklyn, New York.