In CNN Interview, Mick Mulvaney Kicks John McCain for Republican Failure to Repeal Obamacare

In CNN Interview, Mick Mulvaney Kicks John McCain for Republican Failure to Repeal Obamacare

Even dead, John McCain just can’t catch a break.

During a Sunday morning interview with Jake Tapper on CNN, White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney blamed McCain for Republicans’ failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act in 2017. This is a common talking point of President Trump, so presumably Mulvaney earned himself a gold star from the boss. Maybe even a grateful tweet.

Tapper had been pushing Mulvaney on the GOP’s inability to come up with a replacement for the ACA even while the party pushes to get rid of it. Mulvaney responded that Republicans had plenty of ideas — so many ideas! — but “Yes, they didn’t pass, primarily because John McCain went back on his word to vote for it in the middle of the night.”

This was a major dodge. Tapper was specifically pushing Mulvaney on whether Republican plans in the past would have required insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions without charging them more than healthy people, as the ACA does. The plan McCain voted against would have weakened those rules, resulting in higher premiums for people with such conditions.

And that was not even what bothered McCain about the bill. He stated at the time that he voted against it because he felt Republicans had rushed it through without the proper committee work, or the so-called “regular order” beloved by people who want to stick to parliamentary rules. Mulvaney’s attack on McCain in this interview imbues the late senator with a much more liberal view of healthcare reform than he deserves.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mulvaney talks about the lawsuit the administration joined this week that seeks to repeal all of the ACA. Mulvaney mentions that a trial judge has already found the law unconstitutional in a district court, saying “That’s the Democrats’ fault and President Obama’s fault for passing and signing a piece of legislation that violates the Constitution.”

Mulvaney ignores two important pieces of context. One is that the trial judge who ruled the ACA is unconstitutional is a hardcore right-winger whose legal reasoning in the case was so poor that even conservative judicial scholars think he got it badly wrong. His decision was so poorly reasoned that not one career trial lawyer in the Department of Justice would sign on to help defend the law in front of the 5th Circuit Court, which will hear an appeal in the case. All of this does not exactly support Mulvaney’s case that the lawsuit is worthwhile.

The other piece of context is that the judge’s decision turned on the end of the individual mandate. The Supreme Court in 2012 ruled the mandate constitutional by deciding it was a tax that fell under Congress’s constitutional authority to levy taxes. Then in 2017 Republicans passed a tax cut bill that repealed the mandate. The judge in the ACA case determined that because the mandate no longer exists, the entire ACA is invalid.

So by Mulvaney’s logic, it is not that the ACA was unconstitutional when passed. It was made unconstitutional by Republicans. And now should be tossed out entirely on that basis.

It’s a head-spinning leap of logic. But then, so is the GOP’s decade-long fight to get rid of the law.

Watch the entire clip at the top of the post, via CNN.

Gary Legum

Gary Legum has written about politics and culture for Independent Journal Review, Salon, The Daily Beast, Wonkette, AlterNet and McSweeney's, among others. He currently lives in his native state of Virginia.