Republicans to Respect: John McCain

It seems almost an oxymoron these days. But a recent e-mail to supporters, questioning current health care proposals, puts Senator McCain (R-AZ) head and shoulders above his compatriots in honesty.

He pushes the urgency of healthcare, and some values that he shares with the Democrats —

After a month of hosting and attending town hall meetings with my constituents in Arizona and around the country, I know that Americans want health care reform. But what is so very clear to me is that Americans want to reform health care in the right way. I am more convinced than ever that we must fix what is wrong with our health care system while doing no harm to the parts that work well.

This means we need to have malpractice reform, we must emphasize wellness and fitness, give people the option to get the health insurance of their choice and bring the cost of health care under control. [Emphasis his. – Ed.]

But backs away from the current plan, because of its cost.

I am very troubled by the potential cost of the President’s outlined plans.  I know that you are very concerned with the national debt and a projected $9 trillion deficit.  <strong>The prospective cost of the President’s plan could reach $2 trillion</strong>, and  frankly, our country simply cannot afford this price tag.

I will not support heath care reform that adds to the out-of-control spending spree the Democrats in Congress have gone on this year. And I ask you to join me in rejecting the addition of $2 trillion of debt by signing this petition right away.

Government-run health care is something we simply cannot afford, and I know that the majority of Americans agree with me that it is not the quality of health care that needs reforming, but the cost.

There’s room for legitimate disagreement on the financial impact of healthcare. I’ll go so far as to say that the addition to the deficit is something to worry about, a concern I can only reconcile out of respect for the fierce urgency of the issue given new census data, and the conviction that prophylactic medicine, freely available, will relieve burdens elsewhere on the system. But Senator McCain’s point is honest, and well-taken.

Even though the Republicans have only recently, apparently, discovered the mounting deficit, we should have a debate about it, to the exclusion of distractions like “socialism,” “rationing,” and “death panels.” There’s just one small problem: the only period during which McCain had plausible claim to be the leader of the Republican Party coincides with the only period during which his image as a respected elder statesman lapsed, under a wash of bizarre negative campaigning and, of course, his association with Sarah Palin. McCain is well on his way to restoring his bipartisan bona fides, a process he began almost immediately after the election. The road back for the Republicans, though, may be longer.

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