In the lead up to the vote on the healthcare bill, former Rep. Michael McMahon faced a belligerent crowd of 800 in the auditorium of a Staten Island high school.
Compared to other lawmakers, the freshman democrat escaped the most vicious threats. The Jerry Springer moment came when one indignant audience member with a microphone vowed to disrupt his reelection chances. Uninterested in the torch-and-pitchfork vote, McMahon said he would not respond to threats.
McMahon’s eventual victor, Republican Michael Grimm, offered a counter argument during the campaign. The bill would hurt the hospital system on Staten Island and Medicare benefits for seniors. See what he did there?
All of this hints at a pretty simple calculus for winning the seat on Staten Island and part of working class Brooklyn in the last election. Mention your Democratic opponent’s name in the same sentence as Nancy Pelosi with little regard to the context. Because it appears that McMahon recognized the vital importance of the healthcare sector on Staten Island, which represents a third of its workforce, but it didn’t help him at the polls.
Sure, McMahon voted “no” on the heath care bill. But he didn’t vote hard enough. He didn’t go that extra step of extorting lawmakers with compromising 8 x 10 glossies to vote “no.” Worst of all, Pelosi gave him a pass, according to the campaign storyline.
But what really separated Grimm from McMahon was Grimm’s willingness to repeal the bill. In repealing the bill, Grimm would save us from the reprehensible character in Joker makeup threatening to destroy the hospitals on Staten Island.
Two of the three hospitals on Staten Island could lose federal funding. Staten Island University Hospital may lose almost $23 million for a medical education program. Richmond University Medical Center expects significant losses as a result of the bill.
McMahon would later justify voting “no” on these grounds during a congressional debate at Wagner College, but Grimm slammed him for admitting he would not vote to repeal the bill. Grimm would—and did. With much of the district disgruntled with not just the healthcare bill, but what it symbolized, this put Grimm a neck’s length ahead of McMahon.
Meanwhile, the medical community didn’t seem too insistent on repeal in the first place. Health professionals seemed pleased enough with McMahon’s efforts, contributing $77,000 to his campaign. Grimm received $31,500. But the repeal effort continues, however fruitlessly.
Since the repeal effort now faces an unreceptive Democratic majority in the Senate, and a veto by President Obama, Grimm and other Republicans have called an audible. Dissect and Dismember has overtaken Repeal and Replace as they attempt to dismantle the bill piecemeal style.