I dialed Susan Collins’ Bangor office number several times yesterday, and the line was always busy, which I took as a hopeful sign, although I was, and remain, apprehensive. I was calling to thank Sen. Collins once again for her courage in voting against the last Republican effort to repeal Obamacare and to say I hoped she would show the same courage again. But I’m not confident. I had read that the Graham-Cassidy bill would result in a small (8%) increase in funding for Maine, which I took as simple political bribery, but other assessments show our state actually doing worse.
But where had this bill come from in the first place, after all the assurances that John McCain’s early morning thumbs down, in partnership with the no votes of Sen. Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, had killed the endless, mean-spirited efforts to repeal Obamacare? It had come from the anger of donors, who have come to control our political system and, increasingly, to use it for their own personal gain. The idea that our elected officials propose and vote on bills that benefit but a few people, that lobbyists actually write legislation on behalf, not the country as a whole, but the interests they serve is poisoning our democracy.
And yet, as I put the finishing touches on this piece, there is suddenly hope. John McCain has just announced that he will vote against the bill sponsored by his best friend in the Senate.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” he said. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”
What a concept. Isn’t that how the system supposed to work?
Still, just in case, call Senator Collins (207-945-0417) and ask her to work with her colleagues on both sides of the aisle to improve the Affordable Care Act for everyone.