Battle Over Globalization

Should-Read: Josh Barro: John McCain saved Republicans from themselves by killing Obamacare repeal bill: "Lindsey Graham made a demand: He would vote for the terrible healthcare bill being offered before the Senate, a bill he thought would cause health insurance market disaster... long as he received clear assurances that the House would never... make it law.... Like a lot of the weird things Republicans have said and done on healthcare in the last few months, it makes sense if you understand their underlying political goals. All the options Republicans have left themselves on healthcare are both terrible policy and dreadfully unpopular. So members haven't set out to make good policy. They have set out to avoid being blamed for whatever becomes law—and also to avoid being blamed if nothing becomes law....

Early Friday morning, McCain arranged to vote out of alphabetical order, so he could shout the "no" that killed the bill to the applause of his Democratic colleagues. He built up as much drama as he could for the moment, telling reporters who asked about his intentions before the vote they would have to "watch the show." Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein hugged him on the Senate floor. If you've been asking why McCain is getting so much credit for this hit job, rather than his two female Republican colleagues without whose "no" votes the bill would have also passed, one of the answers is that he has sought to make himself the fall guy. But it's true: This was a conspiracy of three. And one thing McCain has in common with Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski is all three were in an unusually good position to take the blame for killing Obamacare.

Collins represents a state, Maine, that voted for Hillary Clinton... is rumored to want to run for governor of Maine. As long as Obamacare stays the law, there will be a pot of Medicaid expansion funds waiting for the state to unlock, creating a windfall into the state budget Collins would oversee. Murkowski... answers to a truly moderate voter base in Alaska... 2016 with 44% of the vote, against 29% for a candidate to her right and 25% for two candidates to her left.... She can lose a Republican primary and come back to win the general election as a write-in.... McCain? Well, how do you threaten an 80-year-old man who is facing down an aggressive form of brain cancer? By threatening to back his primary challenger in 2022?

One piece of conventional wisdom in the months of debate over healthcare had been that any bill would either pass by a single vote or fail by many. Friday morning's 49-to-51 defeat proved that wrong.... Maybe the bill needed to fail by a one-vote margin, so the maximum number of Republicans could say tried their hardest.... Republicans... will be glad for the political cover he gave them by taking the fall for a murder many of them wanted to commit, so the party would not have to take ownership of an electorally disastrous policy.