House Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairwoman Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., speaks during a news conference with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. on Capitol Hill in Washington, Jan. 10, 2018.
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Pre-existing positions come back to haunt key Republican candidates

During the Republicans’ health-care push last year, the party’s political calculus was inherently risky. The GOP majority, throwing caution to the wind, voted for a wildly unpopular bill, written in secret, that would’ve hurt millions of families – on purpose – and that was rushed to the floor without so much as a single substantive hearing.

House Republicans were well aware of the risks. They knew how many Americans would lose coverage. They knew the bill faced long odds in the Senate. They knew there was a chance Donald Trump would sell them out and abandon their bill (which is exactly what he did).

But some in the GOP ranks demanded the party press on anyway. “Let’s get this f–king thing done!” Rep. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) reportedly told her colleagues ahead of the vote.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 10/25/18, 9:10 PM ET

McSally abandons anti-Obamacare zeal with election looming

Rachel Maddow points out the stark contrast in Arizona Rep. Martha McSally’s passion for killing Obamacare with her newfound campaign devotion to protecting health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.
McSally’s colleagues listened: 217 House Republicans – and zero Democrats – voted to repeal and replace “Obamacare” with a far-right blueprint. In the process, they placed a bad bet on a dangerous bill that ended up going nowhere.

And soon after, those GOP lawmakers faced a choice. They could defend their awful bill; they could retire; they could beg for voters’ forgiveness; or they could lie.

Martha “Let’s get this f–king thing done” McSally, now seeking a promotion to the Senate, has clearly manufactured her own false reality, hoping the public won’t know the difference.

Republican Senate candidate Martha McSally’s new television commercial says she is “leading the fight to” cover people with pre-existing conditions.

But last year, McSally voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – which would have weakened protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions by letting insurance companies charge more.

Obviously, it’s an election season, and it’s to be expected that assorted politicians are going to engage in spin, exaggerations, and hyperbole. But McSally’s claims are more offensive than the usual campaign palaver.

For one thing, there is no “fight” to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. That fight ended when Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act – which McSally voted to repeal and replace with legislation that would’ve gutted those safeguards.

For another, the dispute isn’t over some obscure position from the distant past. As recently as last month, the Arizona Republican reiterated her support for repealing and replacing the existing health care reform law.

As Rachel noted on the show last night, for McSally to run as some kind of progressive health care advocate is “through-the-looking-glass bizarre.”

Asked by reporters yesterday to defend to her claims, McSally called the questions “ridiculous,” and demanded that people “talk about the things that matter to most Arizona voters.”

Of course, polls suggest health care is the top issue on the minds of American voters this year. For that matter, if protections for those with pre-existing conditions aren’t one of the “things that matter,” why did the congresswoman make it the subject of a recent campaign ad?

As we discussed the other day, it’s one thing for guys like Missouri’s Josh Hawley and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to play dumb, pretending their efforts to gut Americans’ health security aren’t dangerous. But if members of Congress weren’t prepared to defend their anti-health-care votes, they shouldn’t have cast them in the first place.

Voters deserve better than a brazen deception campaign.

Affordable Care Act, Arizona, Health Care and Obamacare

Pre-existing positions come back to haunt key Republican candidates