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Health-Care Law 'Was a Sleazy Deal': Sen. McCain

The new US health care law was a result of back-room wheeling and dealing that has many Americans feeling frustrated with their government, Sen. John McCain told CNBC.

John McCain
CNBC.com
John McCain

Speaking amid the Democrat celebration of the reform bill's passage into law this week, McCain said the legislation went through Congress with little real negotiation because of a majority that feels it can "ram things through."

"This was a sleazy deal," McCain said. "Look at the sleazy deals made with pharma. The American people feel shut out of this process and they object to the process as much as they do the product."

The former Republican presidential nominee said Congress needs to stop the profligate spending and show the public it is willing to act responsibly to fix the many problems the nation faces. He specifically mentioned Social Security outlays exceeding revenues six years ahead of schedule and a budget deficit that will hit $1.4 trillion this year.

Moreover, he blamed Democrats for not recognizing that "we are a right-of-center nation" and for "adding pork barrel projects like the drunken sailor and the bar is still open."

"The president and this party came to power with 60 votes in the Senate and an overwhelming majority in the house, so they decided to ram things through hoping to pick up a vote or two from the Republicans along the way," McCain said. "That was the case with the stimulus, the omnibus package, health care reform—there were never any real negotiations."

Earlier in the day, former Democratic party Chairman Howard Dean acknowledged the bill is only a step toward reform and needs greater cost controls. (Click here for video of his CNBC interview.)

"This is going to be a problem. There's not a lot of cost controls in this bill," said Dean, the former Vermont governor. "They're going to have to be inserted. It's not going to be fun and it's not going to be easy."

Closer to his own home, McCain faces a bruising primary election battle from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth, who is running as a more conservative choice for Arizona Republicans.

McCain said he had a town hall meeting Saturday during which he heard strong concerns from Arizona residents about the direction of the federal government.

"I came back here on Saturday and (Democrats) were having a champagne toast as a result of their victory in the House," he said, referring to the health care vote. "There's a real disconnect between Main Street, America and Washington, D.C. I don't think they appreciate it."