It is not possible for Congress to pass a comprehensive bipartisan solution to healthcare reform. That much is incontrovertible.
But in a statement announcing his opposition to the Graham-Cassidy legislation — one that signaled it was as good as dead — Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., argued bipartisanship was a necessary component to such efforts, so as not to "leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance."
Citing a bipartisan thrust for solutions made by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, and Patty Murray, D-Wash., McCain stated, "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried."
Republicans want less government, Democrats want more. Substantive reforms cannot do both. If lawmakers wish to pass substantive reforms, and the argument that it's necessary to do so is sound, they must realize they will not be able to find enough common ground to proceed.
To many, that reality is a sad one. But that's another argument entirely.
Conservatives, long considered obstacles to cooperation by centrists such as McCain, have made the necessary concessions on every major legislative attempt in the House and the Senate to create a coalition capable of repealing and replacing Obamacare. Even the Tea Party Patriots endorsed Graham-Cassidy, a bill that leaves in place much of the regulatory structure established by Obamacare.
That members such as Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., or those in the Freedom Caucus and the Tuesday Group, have united around comprehensive reform bills is remarkable and required conservative lawmakers to stomach serious concessions. In an effort to fulfill their party's near decade-long promise, they compromised.
Consider another statement issued by McCain, this time after the Senate voted in December of 2015 to repeal and not replace much of Obamacare.
"The legislation we passed today would unburden Americans from the harmful effects of this failed law and build a bridge to health care solutions that work for families in Arizona and across the country," said McCain. "It is clear that any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, and I will continue fighting on behalf of the people of Arizona to achieve it."
If he truly believes that "any serious attempt to improve our health care system must begin with a full repeal and replacement of Obamacare," McCain knows there is no bipartisan solution to reform that meets his own standards. After voting for repeal, and arguing legislative attempts to achieve full repeal and replacement were essential, McCain is now moralizing about the importance of bipartisanship, after conservatives compromised to deliver on their promises and save a failing system.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.