For the most part, I admire U.S. Congressman Joseph Cao (R-New Orleans) and have enjoyed interviewing him on my TV and radio shows. He is cordial, intelligent and an extremely hard worker. He has a great personal story of persistence, survival and triumph in the face of tremendous obstacles.
As the first Vietnamese American in Congress, Cao is an historic figure on Capitol Hill. He is also a unique politician because he actually reads the bills and studies them before casting a vote. I am sure he is one of the only politicians in Congress to read the 1990 page healthcare bill before voting on the issue.
But for all that, Cao made a horrible mistake in voting for a piece of legislation that, if enacted, will wreck our healthcare system and do terrible damage to our economy. Cao said that he was voting on behalf of his constituents who support the bill but he should have put the interests of his country first. This bill will harm his congressional district and the nation. It will add to our deficit, increase taxes and inevitably will lead to healthcare rationing. Bureaucrats will be placed in charge of decisions which should be made by patients and their doctors. The bill will force insurance companies out of business and make more people dependent on government.
What does the government do well? Is it a good operator of Amtrak, the post office or Medicare? Of course not, it has a horrible track record and every program that the government controls runs a deficit, is mismanaged and is inefficiently operated. If the federal government manages our healthcare system, the poor results will be magnified because it will involve 16% of our entire economy.
By casting the lone Republican vote for this monstrosity, Cao has given President Obama and Speaker Pelosi the cover of a “bi-partisan” bill. In the process, Cao betrayed his party and the many Republican donors who supported his campaign. He will be unable to send out fundraising appeals to Republican donors and activists touting his conservative credentials. Currently, he is being embraced by Rachel Maddow, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, not exactly good credentials for a Republican.
Since his vote is so unpopular with Republicans and will lead to fewer contributions and less support from the party, Congressman Cao should consider switching to the Democratic Party. On many votes, he is the lone Republican or one of the only a few Republicans to support legislation sponsored by the White House. Besides this health care bill, Cao voted for the pork barrel laden omnibus spending bill and the hate crimes legislation. Yet, nothing compares with his vote on Saturday night as the healthcare bill is one of the most disastrous pieces of legislation that has ever been debated in Congress.
By standing up to his party, Cao has become a favorite of President Obama, who lobbied the Congressman for many months. Even if Cao receives some token Democratic donations or even has the President campaign on his behalf, it will not sway the opinion of the voters in the 2nd Congressional District who will likely vote on racial and political lines.
Cao already is facing several serious and well funded Democratic challengers in his 2010 re-election campaign. They will not withdraw because of the healthcare vote. In fact, there is also a chance that other Democrats may enter the race. After this vote, Cao might even have to worry about a Republican challenger in the GOP primary.
As a congressman for a Democratic dominated district, Cao had a chance to educate his constituents about the fallacy of liberal “solutions” such as this healthcare bill. Instead, he decided to “represent” them by supporting a flawed, expensive and harmful bill.
For decades, the people of the 2nd Congressional District have been dependent on the federal government assistance programs and the result is that the district is still one of the poorest in America . Government does not solve problems, it only makes them worse. For healthcare, a much better solution involves tort reform, more competition, portability of policies, and removing government interference, not inviting government to ruin the best healthcare system in the world. A congressman as intelligent as Joseph Cao should know that this healthcare bill will not work. It is sad that he was unable or unwilling to see this reality.