Search This Blog


Bad vote by Cao not made for electoral preservation

The problem for Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao simply was political dynamics had put him into a no-win situation, a reality becoming more apparent as time puts distance into his vote for the disastrous H.R. 3962. But he probably knew that, and that’s why he voted as he did.

This bill, which will lower the quality of health care provision in America in exchange for higher premiums, higher taxes, and with incentives to bring under direct control of the government the sixth of the American economy it represents, barely passed with Cao being the only Republican to vote for it (although his was not the crucial vote.) Indeed, that he voted at the very end indicates he wanted to make sure his would not be the decisive vote in its passage.

Some have argued that this sequence of events and result shows political calculations mainly drove Cao’s decision-making: he needed to vote for it to please enough constituents in his district with about two-thirds Democrats, and about one-half black Democrats. To date his announced opponents, both black Democrat state legislators, have been critical of his votes against the Democrat agenda, particularly concerning the spending bill that massively increased the deficit while unemployment surged after its passage. This vote could inoculate him enough against such criticism to give him a chance to win, it has been argued.

But that view disregards reality. The analytic process is easy enough to understand: it was assumed voting for it would gain more votes than would be lost, while voting against it merely would keep votes but lose others. However, the problem with the calculus of this is it probably works in reverse: the affirmative vote would attract fewer supporters that it would lose present supporters, with that difference probably still greater than votes he would lose by voting negatively.

The validity of this latter assessment already has received confirmation in canceled fundraisers on his behalf and requests for return of donations. It’s not that he will be denounced by Republicans or the party, just that any enthusiasm for his reelection will wither away. Why work for or even vote for somebody who went against you on the most important issue of this Congress? Any Democrat in the seat would have done the same, so what’s the difference if it’s Cao or somebody else in there?

Cao will need a lot of voluntary activism and funds to swim against a huge tide for reelection. Think of the typical Democrat in the district: for many, no matter how Cao voted on anything they’ll never vote for him because they have alternative candidates who will vote just as they would like and who are more “representative” of them (i.e., black Democrats) than is Cao. Only through energetic campaigning can he swing enough Democrat moderates, independents, and Republicans, who will have to turn out at significantly higher numbers than liberal Democrats behind their eventual nominee, to win.

Yet as a result of this vote, that no longer is possible. The enthusiasm necessary to create this kind of turnout evaporated with it. And Cao seems to have known this himself when he spoke of making the vote saying he recognized it would “probably be the death of my political career.” Knowing he was only slightly less unlikely to win by opposing than by supporting, and that his vote would not be crucial, he chose to support because that’s what he thought was best for people in his district – and maybe even of the whole state, if rumors that he was able to get assent to increase the federal government’s contribution to Louisiana’s Medicaid costs from Democrats are true.

So it’s doubtful that Cao’s decision was based on boosting his reelection chances. Rather, he did what he thought was best for his neck of the woods. In larger sense, isolated from the fact that his vote didn’t make any difference (and even if Democrats try to use it as a propaganda ploy the very emphasis they place on it shows they know how weak a tool it is; otherwise, why even bring it up?), it was the wrong decision for the good of the country, but that does not mean it was made in electoral self-interest.


Anonymous said...

Your ignorance, or reliance on ideology over substance, continues to amaze me. Are you suggesting that the different recovery bills, by both democratic and republican presidents, actually increased unemployment? Do you have NAY fact to substantiate such a claim? Every economist in the nation admitted that the path was in place for double-digit unemployment, and more... the fact that we have barely crossed the threshold of 10% is not a surprise to anyone. The fact that the growth seems to be much slower, and not much higher, is taken by most economist that we have chosen a path to a soft landing, as opposed to a major international recession and depression.

James S said...

You're right, anon, "nay" real economist thinks the porkulus bill worked.

Gao voted for the welfare state constituency nd I guess that refelcts the ideology of most of his district. He didn't have much chance for reelection before and not a snowball's chance now. Sure glad I didn't send him any money.