President Trump, in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, blasted Arizona Sen. John McCain for opposing the latest GOP attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, saying McCain was snookered by Democrats to let down his best friend, who authored the proposed bill.
The Graham-Cassidy legislation, which was expected to be voted on next week in the Senate, would get rid of some mandates of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, but for the most part would put its taxes in place and redistribute the money to states in the form of block grants.
Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums last year, with deductibles very high. Chuck Schumer sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
Large Block Grants to States is a good thing to do. Better control & management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
The bill would also end the Medicaid expansion that 31 states and Washington, D.C., took advantage of under Obamacare and overhaul the funding for traditional Medicaid.
Trump defended the bill, tweeting: "Large Block Grants to States is a good thing to do. Better control & management. Great for Arizona. McCain let his best friend L.G. down!"
The initials referred to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a close friend of McCain's and co-author of the bill that appears to be the last gasp effort by Republicans this year to try to repeal and replace Obamacare.
For his part, Graham issued a statement on Friday saying his friendship with McCain "is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is."
The closely divided Senate means that the Republicans, who control the chamber, cannot lose more than two GOP senators if they hope to pass the legislation.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has already declared he is a "no" vote, while Republican senators Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Susan Collins, of Maine, have both leaned strongly against the bill.
Trump's tweet-o-rama Saturday included three hits on McCain, including one that said the senator "never had any intention of voting for this Bill, which his Governor loves. He campaigned on Repeal & Replace. Let Arizona down!"
He also claimed that Arizona's Obamacare premiums went up 116% last year, and added that Sen. Minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., "sold John McCain a bill of goods. Sad"
It was the second day that the president has taken swipes at McCain. At a rally in Alabama Friday night, the president said he was stunned by the Arizona senator's vote against the previous repeal bill, saying McCain's opposition was "totally unexpected" and "terrible."
Surprisingly, Trump appeared to be wooing Paul — the first Republican senator to come out against the bill — to switch: "I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!"
I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for the good of the Party!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 23, 2017
He also issued a tweet about Murkowski, appearing to chide her over her vote in July against the earlier attempt to repeal Obamacare: "Alaska had a 200% plus increase in premiums under ObamaCare, worst in the country. Deductibles high, people angry! Lisa M comes through."
In July, McCain was the key vote that killed the last GOP effort to dump Obamacare, flashing a dramatic thumbs down on the Senate floor in the waning minutes of the vote.
This time McCain issued a statement well in advance of next week's expected vote.
“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried," McCain said in a statement. "Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it."
To make a Sept. 30 deadline, Republican senators intended to bring the bill offered by Graham and Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., to the floor without the usual full analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.