A GOP “skinny repeal” controversy began early Friday morning, when three Republican senators voted “no” on the proposed healthcare repeal. Even more shocking are the reasons why these senators — McCain, Murkowski, and Collins — rejected the bill.

Why Did These Senators Break Ranks?

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) implied he wouldn’t vote for  bill because it did not gain bipartisan support. He has yet to explain why he is suddenly expecting cooperation from Democrats involved in a “resistance.”

Senator Murkowski (R-AK) said she voted no “because both sides must do better on process and substance.” She now “stand[s] ready to begin work with my colleagues” on a new healthcare plan. How Senator Murkowski plans to do this with party leadership now moving on to other items on the agenda, she is also yet to say.

Senator Susan Collins’s (R-ME) justification for rejecting the bill is even more surprising: in large part, it accepts the Democrats’ agenda. In fact, one of her top concerns was that “the bill would make sweeping changes to the Medicaid program.”

Senator Collins’s other major priority in rejecting the bill was ensuring financial support for Planned Parenthood. Accordingly, she argued that “denying women access to Planned Parenthood is contrary to our goal of letting patients choose the health care provider who best fits their needs.”

A Sign of Bigger Problems

Senator Collins’s unbelievable comments highlight a number of problems with the current course of Republican politics.  

Because our nation is dealing with a financial crisis, largely associated with Medicaid and other related entitlements, it’s difficult to argue for its expansion.  Further, the redistribution of wealth through entitlements is socialism. Socialism is not conservatism.

Similarly, how can Senator Collins justify her appeal to keep Planned Parenthood by making reference to gender?  Women’s access to healthcare should be no less of a concern than men’s access. Gender politics is in many ways Marxist, and Marxism is not conservatism.

Lastly, why is Senator Collins suggesting that Planned Parenthood deserves the opportunity to avoid competition on the free market? Small businesses don’t get the same protection. Mandatory government management of the economy is a step toward fascism, and fascism is not American.

Unfortunately, these considerations are likely to be acted upon as the GOP plans ahead for the 2018 senatorial races. The party must win enough additional seats to form a more reliable coalition. Should they fail, perhaps the middle class will finally retire from the “Grand Old Party” by taking its votes to a third party capable of delivering.