Surprisingly, the Senator who did the most to emphasize the absurdity of the situation was Mitch McConnell, the Republican minority leader. He recalled the votes on Social Security and Medicare, both of which passed with substantial Republican support. Social Security and Medicare, of course, were government-run programs paid for by straight tax increases. They were far more offensive to conservatives than the current legislation, which funds a mostly-private sector health-care expansion by trimming the budget of Medicare, America's largest single-payer health-care system.More impressive was the sight of John McCain saying Ted Kennedy wouldn't "appreciate" the bill passing cloture on a party-line vote (which Republicans made sure happened). I'd wager there's a few things Kennedy wouldn't appreciate and one of them was Republicans trying to take full advantage of the timing of his death to derail health care. None of his colleagues across the aisle mentioned respecting his interests or his constituents from Massachusetts. He was, momentarily, just one less vote to worry about.
Even as the bills Democrats pursue have become more moderate, the roll calls have become more partisan.
Before Obama was even sworn-in Republicans had dusted off the '94 playbook and called on former Clinton reform-killing stars like Bill Kristol and Betsy McCaughey to lead their campaign of misinformation, fantastic lies and promises of death that poisoned the well and led people to angrily oppose broader, cheaper access to health care. Doesn't get much weirder than that. More telling was the GOP's decision over the last 15 years to ignore an industry with exploding costs in dire need of reform. Our health care system is what it is today because Republicans blocked reform when out of power and did nothing while in power. McCain can feel free to throw a tantrum. But he's got no answer for his own record of inaction.