Mitch McConnell at CPAC by Gage Skidmore/Flickr
On June 25 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell replied in my hometown newspaper to a shorter version of my opednews column "Mitch McConnell is the face of a broken Senate. Below is my reply, a close version of what appeared today in the Danville Advocate-Messenger:
On June 25 Sen. McConnell replied to my column of June 16: "McConnell face of a broken Senate." His reply did not address most of my argument, so I'll begin with a quick summary of what I actually wrote.
I had two criticisms of McConnell's conduct as a senator. The first was about the greatly increased use of the filibuster by the GOP Senate minority under his leadership. Thanks to them, and with the tacit consent of Democratic senators, the new normal is that a 60-vote supermajority is necessary for all substantial legislation.
This has made the legislative process dysfunctional. Hence my reference to "a broken Senate." My point was that the legislative paralysis will harm our nation. McConnell's reply did not address this issue at all. All he did was explain his opposition to Obamacare.
My second criticism of McConnell was that his contribution to American political life is mostly obstruction. He seems to offer no solutions to major problems. I took his opposition to Obamacare as an example.
Let me say upfront that I'm not a cheerleader for Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act or ACA). I would have greatly preferred a single-payer plan, a Medicare For Everyone. Medicare for the elderly is a very successful and popular program which demonstrates that the U.S. knows how to run a single-payer system. The Canadian version provides coverage for all citizens at half what the U.S. pays per person for health care, and with outcomes at least as good as ours..
However, Obamacare is a whole lot better than nothing. Yet nothing is what McConnell offers as an alternative.
Here are some urgently needed changes that Obamacare brings: (1) insurance companies cannot deny coverage for preexisting conditions; (2) they cannot refuse to renew policies for people who get seriously ill; (3) they cannot impose annual or lifetime caps on coverage that leave people one serious illness away from bankruptcy; and (4) by a combination of a universal mandate, expanded Medicaid, and premium subsidies, it will enable as many as half of those now uninsured to get coverage.