Dear Sens. Murkowski and McCain,
Rumor has it that the two of you are wavering in your refusal to allow the leadership of your party to strip millions of Americans of their access to health care. I have a question: Why?
I’ll start with you, Sen Murkowski. You said you are “still looking” at the effect this new bill will have on your state of Alaska. But Senator, how can you possibly be able to determine those effects without a scoring from the Congressional Budget Office? We do know there are massive cuts in the bill. According to the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, Alaska will lose $149 million in funding. Now, that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to places like California ($35 billion) and New York ($22 billion), but the population of Alaska is less than three-quarters of a million souls. So that $149 million would go a long way to keep your constituents healthy. That alone should give you pause. But there are other things in the bill that should also pose grave concerns.
The CBO has said it will not be able to provide a timely estimate of the number who will lose coverage under this ill-advised bill that has melded the worst parts of the previous two failures into one, big, stinking heap of GOP meanness. Are you really okay with denying literally tens of millions of your fellow Americans access to health care? And if you are, do you really think it’s in their best interest and in the best interests of this country? And if you believe that, please explain WHY!
And now for you, Senator McCain. You know, back when you gave your famous thumbs down, you were hailed as a hero. However, now you’re saying that if the governor of your state likes this new Graham-Cassidy bill, you’ll vote for it. What about that statement you issued after your no vote on the skinny bill?
We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.”
But now you’re changing your tune? Even though there is no time for real debate? Even though the CBO figures won’t be available for weeks after the vote is taken? Oh, you did add that you’d have to know more. More what? You already know this bill will restore caps. You already know the bill will remove penalties from large employers who elect not to provide affordable health insurance for their workers. You already know the bill will defund Planned Parenthood, even though the abortions that comprise a tiny 3 percent of the health care it offers to the poor (both men and women) are not paid for with federal funds. You already know this bill will eliminate the protections against pre-existing conditions. You already know that block grants to states will not cover the millions of people who need coverage the most. Some of those people, Senator McCain, are military people who have served our country with honor. Just like you did. The difference is, they aren’t protected by millions of dollars and great government health insurance like you are.
So what was that thumbs down in July all about? Was it just giving the finger to Donald Trump because he said nasty, untrue things about you? Did it have nothing to do with doing what’s right for the American people? Was it just about getting back at a bully?
Back in the day, when you were a prisoner of war, you elected to stay with your men instead of taking the offer of release. You said, “I just knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I knew that they wouldn’t have offered it to me if I hadn’t been the son of an admiral. I just didn’t think it was the honorable thing to do.”
I hate to bring up the obvious, but sometimes it’s a necessity; and this is one of those times. Senator McCain, you are 80 years old and you have brain cancer. It’s a good bet you will never be running for Senate again. It’s a good bet you will lose this, your last and most valiant, battle. You have served your country for your entire adult life. I know you love this country, but think you have lost touch with what the average citizen faces on a daily basis, because your wealth and position have insulated you from the mundane concerns that pose huge roadblocks to so many of us down here in the trenches.
This is your golden opportunity to let the people of Arizona know that you care about their welfare, even if they are too uninformed to understand that. This is your golden opportunity to tell the people of the United States of America that you are a senator for all of us and that you do care about what’s right and what’s honorable.
You have lived a long and honorable life. No one knows when it will end, but you are nearing that marker that separates us from those who have gone before us. You have been given a gift from God: The opportunity to stand up and say in no uncertain terms that you will do what is right, what is honorable, what a true hero would do.
So how would you like your epitaph to read?
Here Lies John McCain
He served his country well.
He stood up to those who would have stripped health care from millions
because he knew it was the right thing to do.
Here Lies John McCain
He served his country well for a time.
But when it came to protecting the health care of millions,
He threw honor to the wind and said,
“I’ll do whatever the governor of my state wants me to do and besides,
Lindsay Graham is a friend of mine, so I had to vote for that hideous bill.”