GOP senators preview the weekend’s cloture debate for NRO.
by Robert Costa
In the 2008 presidential race, John McCain often dueled with Barack Obama over health care. Over a year later, Obama is in the White House and McCain finds himself back on Capitol Hill. The battle, however, continues.
With the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) making a final push to pass Obamacare in the upper chamber, McCain tells NRO that it is crucial for Senate Republicans to make every effort to defeat Reid’s 2,074-page blueprint, which is expected to come to a cloture vote on Saturday night. That vote will determine whether the bill can move to the Senate floor for a final debate. Reid, who leads a caucus of 58 Democrats and two independents, needs to secure 60 votes in order to proceed.
Democrats, says McCain, “are trying to fundamentally change health care in America.” Reid’s bill, he adds, is “like a big fish in the sun: After a short period of time out there, it really begins to stink.” McCain’s concerns are numerous: the bill’s spending, its new taxes, its Medicare cuts, its abortion language, its public option, its employer mandates, and its lack of medical-malpractice reform. The last item really irks the Arizona senator. “The total absence of meaningful malpractice reform just shows you the incredible influence of the trial lawyers of America,” says McCain. “It’s just blatant.”
The Congressional Budget Office’s recent score of Reid’s bill puts the cost at $848 billion over ten years. McCain says that number is misleading. Unlike the House and Senate Finance Committee health-care bills, whose reforms were set to start in 2013, Reid’s bill pushes back the implementation date to 2014. McCain calls the move “outrageous.”
“People will start paying taxes right away, but now the benefits won’t kick in until years later,” says McCain. “It’s like buying a house and starting mortgage payments only to be told that you have to wait five years to move into your home. And when you look at the actual cost of implementation, once the taxes come into effect, the ten-year cost is $2.5 trillion.”
Beyond the CBO numbers, “this bill is an atrocity, it’s awful,” says Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), an orthopedic surgeon. “The overall costs are hidden. A huge part of Medicare that seniors depend on is going to be cut, and the bill includes major new taxes.”
Also worrisome, says Barrasso, is that rationing is on the horizon: “The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a government panel, just came out with an astonishing report on mammograms that [encourages the government to step] between people and their doctors. It’s amazing that the government and the Democrats would show their hand this soon. This report is clearly the first step toward rationing and a glimpse into the future of health care in America.”
Knowing that the public is growing increasingly uneasy about Obamacare, the Senate GOP is more than ready to raise objections at every turn, says McCain... Read the whole article.
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