As riveting as last night’s government healthcare takeover vote was, part of the mystique behind
it involved hundreds of individual stories that involved political horse trading, private deals, favors, bribes and even extortion-like coercion. To actually pass this very unpopular and contentious bill took more arm twisting and bone bending than you would find in a chiropractors office. The President and Speaker Pelosi asked many Democrats to, what they commonly call—- “walk the plank”. Many of them did. They need the financial backing of the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee and they need the support of the leadership to pass legislation that is key to their districts. But some Democrats were also told that if they reach at least 219 votes, they could go ahead and vote against HR3692.
Traditionally, party leaders will let some legislators in their own party “off the hook” on some of the most controversial votes. This only happens if party leaders knows the bill can pass without that members vote. Some of that happened in last night’s election results.
Of the 39 Democrats who did vote against HR.3962, most are in swing districts that will be hard for Democrats to win reelection in.
Twelve of these 39 are freshman. When it comes to keeping their seats in 2010, they are some of the most vulnerable of Democrats and they have some of the most angry voters opposed to the government takeover plan. Which is why they are also some of those who were let off the hook.
Many of them took the same position that Ohio’s freshman Democrat John Boccieri stated in a press release, “While I fully support quality, affordable health care coverage for everyone, I am disappointed the House bill sadly does not go far enough to reduce the costs of getting there”. That position will allow these Democrats to remain competitive in relatively fiscally conservative districts.
The only exceptions is Dennis Kucinich.
Kucinich is safe no matter what he does in his liberal district. He likely opposed the bill because under the instructions of President Obama, House Education and Labor Committee Chair George Miller successfully shot down a his amendment that would have allowed states to choose to improve the healthcare system by creating state-level single-payer healthcare programs of their own.
Based upon the makeup and history of their districts, the other 38 nay votes were obviously concerned with voter backlash. Moderate Democrats in swing districts did not particularly like the message that last Tuesday’s election results delivered. For them it was a warning shot right across their bow.
That accounts for the who and why some Democrats opposed HR3692. But what of the lone Republican who voted for it?
Even though Louisiana’s freshman Congressman, Joseph Cao, is a Republican from a typically red states in the red South, his particular district is heavily blue. The former long time occupant of that seat was William Jefferson, the Congressman who was forced to resign after hundreds of thousand of dollars were found in his freezer and he was convicted of illegal financial schemes. Cao simply came into office because he was not a felon. That kind of approval does not exactly indicate a groundswell of support and a loyal following. It also means that Cao will have a hard time getting reelected if he finds himself running against a Democrat opponent without a criminal record. The district is clearly left of center, so voter backlash is also what forced Louisiana’s Joseph Cao to offer up the sole Republican “yea” vote for government micromanagement of our health care.
Congressman Cao’s vote was one of the last to be recorded and it was only cast after the Democrats exceeded the 218 votes needed for passage. It was probably one of the most astonishing profiles in cowardice we have seen in year’s. There was never even a hint that such a break was being contemplated, so his lone Republican vote for the HR 3962 came as a surprise to GOP leaders.
Cao’s last minute “yea” vote was just an attempt to give liberals in his district one less reason to vote against him. But you know what? It won’t work. Liberals will almost always choose a Democrat who is honest about their liberalism over a Republican pretending to be liberal. At the same time, the minority of Republicans who do live in Cao’s district will not necessarily vote for a Republican whose vote is no different than a Democrat’s vote.
Ultimately the 39 Democrats who opposed Pelosicare, or were excused from having to support it, may end up in good standing come next November. They will be able to stand up and say that they did not burden Amercans with a cumbersome government takeover that will micromanage our healthcare needs and choices while placing unelected and acountable czars, diectors, commissions, committees, bureaus, panels, advisors and political appointed hacks between us and our doctors. All while raising costs, increasing taxes and sending jobs overseas at a time when we have double digit unemployment and need them now, more than ever.
It is, the economy, Stupid. But since liberals don’t get it, those Democrats who were not among the 39 that were let off the hook, may have a helluva tough reelection ahead of them. They won’t be alone though. After proving to be the most spinless Republican in the House, Louisiana’s freshman Representative Joseph Cao is likely to find himself on the losing end of a vote. The one for him.
The following is a list of those who joined Kucinich and Boccieri in their opposition to the government health management takeover package were as follows:
John Adler, NJ-3, Freshman
Jason Altmire, PA-4
Brian Baird, WA-3
John Barrow, GA-12
Dan Boren, OK-2
Rick Boucher, VA-09
Allen Boyd, FL-02
Bobby Bright, AL-02 – Freshman
Ben Chandler, KY-06
Travis Childers, MS-01
Artur Davis, AL-07
Lincoln Davis, TX-04
Chet Edwards, TX-17
Bart Gordon, TN-6
Parker Griffith, AL-05 – Freshman
Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin, SD
Tim Holden, PA-17
Larry Kissell, NC-8 – Freshman
Suzanne Kosmas, FL-24 –Freshman
Frank Kratovil, MD-1 – Freshman
Betsy Markey, CO-4 – Freshman
Jim Marshall, GA-8
Eric Massa, NY-8 – Freshman
Jim Matheson, UT-2
Mike McIntyre, NC-7
Michael McMahon, NY-13
Charlie Melancon, LA-3
Walt Minnick, ID-1 – Freshman
Scott Murphy, NY-20
Glenn Nye, VA-2, Freshman
Collin Peterson. MN-7
Mike Ross, AZ-4
Heath Shuler, NC-11
Ike Skelton, MO-4
John Tanner, TN-8
Gene Taylor, MS-4
Harry Teague, NM-02, Freshman
If any of these guys are in your state, you might want to call their office and thank them. We are usually pretty quick to express or anger at legislators and our displeasure with them. When one of them does something right, regardless of what their reason was, we should let them know, that their are many people who are paying attention and that their are some benefits when they do things right.