Sunday, November 08, 2009

Joseph Cao was the lone GOP vote for the health care legislation

Before we get to the man who replaced William Jefferson in the US House of Representatives let's look at what was actually in this legislation:
The House of Representatives Saturday passed, by a 220-215 vote, historic health-care overhaul legislation that would require virtually all Americans to obtain health insurance and create a government-run health insurance plan to help them do so.

If passed by the Senate, the bill would bring about the most sweeping changes in the American health care system since Medicare was created 44 years ago.
In addition to creating the so-called public option government-run insurance program, the House-passed bill would bar insurers from denying people coverage because of pre-existing conditions and set up health care "exchanges," or marketplaces, where consumers could easily shop for coverage.

The changes are expected to mean that by 2019, 96 percent of eligible Americans would have health insurance, up from the current 83 percent.
A bigger boost may have come from a deal to bar coverage by government-subsidized insurance policies of elective abortions.

As originally written, the measure would have required insurers to separate public and private money, so that only private funds could be used for elective abortions. Abortion opponents were concerned that such a policy would effectively expand the government's role in improving access to abortion, and as many as 40 Democrats threatened to withhold support from the health care bill unless changes were made.
I'm somewhat bothered by something else I heard in this provision, that we have to have insurance or face fines for not having insurance. That's a very unfortunate provision and people would liken this to Massachusettes, hopefully I can find something that indicates that costs in Massachusettes are only going up. The issue is costs here so how do we bring down costs.

Anyway this blog post from And So it Goes in Shreveport discusses Joseph Cao. It seems as if this blogger may have already seen this coming from him:
Why did Cao vote yes? He'll surely offer explanations in the days ahead, but we could see it coming. This is what he said in August:

"At the end of the day if the health care reform bill does not have strong language prohibiting the use of federal funding for abortion, then the bill is really a no-go for me," said Cao, who studied to be a Jesuit priest. 

"Being a Jesuit, I very much adhere to the notion of social justice," Cao said. "I do fully understand the need of providing everyone with access to health care, but to me personally, I cannot be privy to a law that will allow the potential of destroying thousands of innocent lives.

"I know that voting against the health care bill will probably be the death of my political career," Cao said, "but I have to live with myself, and I always reflect on the phrase of the New Testament, 'How does it profit a man's life to gain the world but to lose his soul.' "

Cao's district has been Democratic since 1891. He won the seat in 2008, defeating William "Cold Cash" Jefferson who was then facing 16 felony indictments.

The district represents almost all of New Orleans and the demographics are 30% White, 64% Black, and a small percentage of Asian, Hispanic, and Native American.

For his part, Cao has always made it clear that he would vote to represent his constituents. In a December 2008 interview with NPR, Cao expressed some frustration with the Republican party who he says "ignored" his campaign until they saw that he might win. He says it was not until three weeks before the election that the Republican establishment finally kicked in to help him defeat Jefferson. Governor Bobby Jindal didn't offer an endorsement of Cao until three days before the election.

Then you have to consider what Cao calls the Hurricane Effect. Katrina had displaced lots of voters. The election had been delayed by Hurricane Gustav in early September. Only 66,000 voters participated in the election.
And when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, that's not going to put a lot of Republicans at ease as many of them would rather he votes the party line. He might get re-elected there or he may face a decent Democratic challenger and absolutely little help from Republicans.

Besides it was noted that he started getting Republican votes when they realized that he might win. If I understand correctly Louisiana's run-off electoral system may have played a role in Cao's ascension to Congress. Although all things being considered William Jefferson, the man who was convicted of corruption that year, should have been doomed. However, this may not have been his year being weakend in a primary run-off and then having to face Cao in December.

In that election in December turnout was even more depressed. If I understand correctly, people were just confused they may have thought the election was over. Who knows they may have been disenchanted and stayed home. It enabled a Cao win.

The question here is what would this mean in the future for Joseph Cao can he live this vote down?

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