Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) will vote for the Senate tax reform bill, he announced Thursday.
“After careful thought and consideration, I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill,” McCain said in a statement Thursday morning. “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.”
After careful consideration, I have decided to support the Senate #TaxReform bill. Though not perfect, this bill will deliver much-needed reform to our tax code, grow the economy & provide long overdue tax relief for American families. https://t.co/BeWZAT0SjM pic.twitter.com/6qwYhmyE5p
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) November 30, 2017
Earlier this year, McCain essentially killed two attempts by the Senate GOP to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Each time, McCain said his decision to vote against the bill, which Republicans were attempting to jam through the reconciliation process without hearings. was because he believed it needed to go through “regular order.”
“I argued during the health-care debate for a return to regular order,” McCain wrote in The Washington Post in August, “letting committees of jurisdiction do the principal work of crafting legislation and letting the full Senate debate and amend their efforts.”
He went on, writing, “Let’s try [regular order] on tax reform and infrastructure improvement and all the other urgent priorities confronting us. These are all opportunities to show that ordinary, decent, free people can govern competently, respectfully and humbly, and to prove the value of the United States Congress to the great nation we serve.”
Senate Republicans introduced their tax bill just less than a month ago, on November 1, and now, without a single public hearing — without any semblance of regular order — one might expect McCain to, again, take a principled stance on the bill based on his desire for regular order in the Senate.
In his statement announcing he favored the bill Thursday, McCain attempted to paint the bill as having gone through regular order, saying, “I am pleased that this important bill was considered through the normal legislative processes, with several hearings and a thorough mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee during which more than 350 amendments were filed and 69 received a vote.”
But that’s simply not true. While it has had a thorough mark-up, the bill has had not a single public hearing, keeping the bill hidden from the people whose lives will be affected.
McCain also addressed his previous health care votes Thursday.
“I have also argued that health care reform, which is important both to the well-being of our citizens and to the vitality of our economy, should proceed by regular order. This bill does not change that,” he said when he announced he will vote for the tax bill.
But even if McCain believes it’s only important for health reform to go through regular order and not important for tax reform, he’s sorely mistaken about what the tax bill he’s going to vote in favor of contains.
The bill, which Republicans say they hope to vote on this week, is a health care reform bill.
Should the bill be signed into law, it could trigger a $25 billion cut to Medicare, the government-subsidized health insurance program offering coverage to seniors.
Additionally, it repeals Obamacare’s individual mandate, a move the Congressional Budget Office says would leave 13 million more people uninsured in the next ten years and premiums would increase 10 percent.
The other problem with McCain’s support for the tax bill is that the senator has long painted himself as a deficit hawk. Just last week he told Politico, “I’m always worried about the deficit.”
The framework for the bill allows for $1.5 trillion in higher deficits over the next 10 years, but McCain said Thursday that he doesn’t actually care.
“I take seriously the concerns some of my Senate colleagues have raised about the impact of this bill on the deficit,” he said in the statement. “However, it’s clear this bill’s net effect on our economy would be positive. 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.”
McCain’s calls for regular order seemed to many a solidification of his reputation as the “lion of the senate,” a maverick unafraid to stand up for his beliefs, even when they were unpopular. He called, over and over again, for any bill to go through the traditional hearing and mark-up process.
McCain loved regular order — until he didn’t, and now middle class Americans will see tax increases, while the wealthiest one percent get almost all the benefits.