Sunday, November 8, 2009

Republican Anh "Joseph" Cao Shows More Conscience Than Democrats Who Voted "No"

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.


Neil said...

Your piece applauding the Republican congressman who voted for health care
reform is understandable but in my view mistaken. Anything that strengthens the
reelection prospects of any Republican is a net negative. The vote that counts
in any legislative body is the vote to organize that body (i.e. the leadership
and the rules). Should the Republicans regain the majority any hope of turning
the country in a healthier direction would evaporate. At this point in the
party's history, a Republican politician should switch parties or get out of

Jeff Tone said...

Neil: We can’t realistically expect Republicans to heed a wish that they switch or scram. There are some critical pieces of legislation under consideration now, including health care, energy and financial regulation. The president needs as much support for his agenda as he can muster. Party affiliation doesn’t necessarily guarantee such support. What good is a Blue Dog Democrat who votes against health care reform? Cao, the Republican, has done more this past week to turn this country “in a healthier direction” than they have.

Stephanie said...

I think it was definitely the right thing for him to do to keep in mind his constituents when he was voting for this bill, regardless of whether he had to cross the political line to do that. Now we just have to wait and see if the backlash is going to harm him or help him in the long run. This video clip goes into both options.

Jeff Tone said...

Stephanie; I agree. Cao was prompted in great part by a novel concept these days: representing the needs of one's constituents.

Irwin said...

Kucinich has it right! A subsidy of the insurance companies, who really provide no useful service here, will not keep prices down, and merely bring in a new pool of people for a deeply flawed product! Not to mention making scofflaws of millions of our fellow citizens! Shall we add to this mix the Stupak amendment! I don't think we should be providing cover to Obama and the Dems at any cost! I want health care too, but one that'll really help the American people, not one wwitten by the health industry!

Jeff Tone said...

Irwin: I think we'd agree that it's better that there be a public option than not, and that it's better if insurance companies were prevented from dropping consumers from their rolls and denying coverage to those with "pre-existing conditions." So why join Kucinich in his insistence that unless we get a perfect bill, any improvements should be denied?