The Republican tally for House votes in favor of health care reform: one. That one affirmative voter is Representative Anh "Joseph" Cao (left) of Louisiana. Explaining his vote, Cao said:
“I read the versions of the House bill. I listened to the countless stories of Orleans and Jefferson Parish citizens whose health care costs are exploding — if they are able to obtain health care at all. Louisianans need real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children.”
In voting to expand the numbers of Americans who are able to receive health care, Cao has shown more concern for his fellow citizens than the following Democrats who joined Republicans in voting "no":
John Adler (NJ); Jason Altmire (PA); Brian Baird (WA); John Barrow (GA); John Boccieri (OH); Dan Boren (OK); Rick Boucher (VA); Allen Boyd (FL); Bobby Bright (AL); Ben Chandler (KT); Travis Childers (MS); Artur Davis (AL); Lincoln Davis (TN); Chet Edwards (TX); Bart Gordon (TN); Parker Griffith (AL); Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (SD); Tim Holden (PA); Larry Kissell (NC); Suzanne Kosmas (FL); Frank Kratovil (MD); Dennis Kucinich (OH); Jim Marshall (GA); Betsy Markey (CO); Eric Massa (NY); Jim Matheson(UT); Mike McIntyre (NC); Michael McMahon (NY); Charlie Melancon (LA); Walt Minnick (ID); Scott Murphy (NY); Glenn Nye (VA); Collin Peterson (MN); Mike Ross (AR); Heath Shuler (NC); Ike Skelton (MO); John Tanner (TN); Gene Taylor (MS); Harry Teague (NM)
These officials mostly represent districts that voted for the GOP presidential ticket last November. They put politics above an issue that has been central to the Democratic Party for decades. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio deserves particular mention for his "nay." Kucinich, who is for universal health care, foolishly reasoned that since the bill wasn't progressive enough, whatever progress it represents should be scrapped.
One unfortunate aspect of Cao's vote, along with the "yes" votes of anti-abortion Democrats, was its reliance on tight abortion restrictions, sure to hurt women who can't afford the procedure. As the Guttmacher Institute and World Health Organization have shown, restrictions don't reduce the abortion rate; they just make the procedure more dangerous. Pro-choice House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, included these restrictions to get the bill passed, showing more pragmatism than Kucinich.