During a speech on the Senate floor this afternoon, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) rejected President Obama’s offer to remove the so-called Florida special deal from the health care bill and urged Democrats to start over and scrap all other “special deals” from the legislation. At one point, McCain even mocked Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that treating states differently is “what legislation is all about.” “Why would a state be treated differently from another state? Why would we have disparate impact on different states?” he asked:
MCCAIN: My friends, that’s not compromise. That’s not the right word. Compromise is an agreement between two parties on both sides of the aisle that reach an agreement. What this is is back room wheeler dealing, special interests influence and vote buying. That’s what this was… Why should it ever happen that the residents of one state that are in the same program, exact same federal program, have different advantages over another state?
The answer to McCain’s question is rather simple. Different states have different needs and prudent federal policies often considers each state’s unique economic conditions and circumstances in crafting legislation. For example, the federal matching formula for Medicaid varies from state to state, depending on each state’s poverty level. Treating all states equally would overcompensate richer states and severely undermine poorer states that don’t have the tax base or resources to adequately fund federal programs. Poorer states are also more likely to struggle with higher health care costs, less healthy populations, and citizens who can’t afford private health insurance.
McCain concluded his speech with a remark that would surely make his former running mate happy, saying “unless we start over, then how in the world can we put lipstick on a pig? It’s still a pig. It is still a bad and unsavory process that we went through in order to reach the legislative package we have now.” In fact, McCain may have even been echoing Palin who also criticized Democrats for “putting ‘perfume on a pig.‘”