Putz of The Week, Mensch of The Week 11/8/09

OK, aside from the governor’s race, the House Health Care Bill (H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act). was the big news of the week. And the bill is faaaaaaaaaaar from perfect. The bill contains the Stupak/Pitts Amendment which prohibits federal funding of abortion. But it does allow Viagra to be paid for as a prescription drug. And yet the Speaker of the House is a woman. Guess it’s one step forward, step and a half back.

But I digress.

It’s not too often that a Putz of The Week is both a friend and a Democrat. This may be the first time. But, in the interest of fairness, Congressman John Adler was a good friend of Hunterdon County when I was County Chair, and I have always enjoyed his friendship, advice, and sense of humor. I was glad to see him win a seat formerly held by a Republican, and even more glad to see him hire a brilliant young lady, Mary Campbell Cruz, for his staff.

However, he is wrong to join 214 mostly Republican others in opposing this bill. Recently Adler said, of the healthcare reform bill,

“Congress should not pass a bill that costs more than $1 trillion dollars or increases the financial burden on middle class families and small businesses,".

However, when he ran for Congress, his website—next to a picture of Adler talking to a senior citizen– read,

“John Adler knows what it is like to live without adequate health care. When his father suffered a debilitating series of heart attacks, his family faced what one in five Americans are facing now: limited or no health care, no income, and a pile of hospital bills. With rising food and gas prices in an increasingly unstable economy, too many Americans cannot afford to pay for their health care.”

So, Nu? What happened between that photo op and yesterday, Congressman? Eleven percent of non-senior citizens in your district lack adequate health care.

Do you really think that opposing this bill will get you the support of conservative Republicans in your district? No—it will lose you the support of Democrats, Congressman. Those Republicans will most likely have a Republican candidate who opposes health care reform to vote for.

So, this week, because of his joining 214 others in opposing this almost historical bill, Congressman John Adler is our Putz of The Week.

Mensch of the Week: Staying on topic of H.R. 3962, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, I give a minor Mensch of the Week to the only Republican Congressman to vote for the bill, Anh "Joseph" Cao. Congressman Cao has a story that is uniquely American

Congressman Cao was born in Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam. His father, an officer with the South Vietnamese Army, was imprisoned by the Communists. At the age of eight, Joseph escaped to America with two of his siblings. He learned English, thrived in school, and earned a physics degree from Baylor University before he began studying for the priesthood. Joseph first arrived in New Orleans in 1992. He left to earn a Master's degree in philosophy from New York's Fordham University, returning to Loyola University to teach philosophy and ethics. He lost his home in Katrina, and ran for Congress as a Republican and represents Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District.

He said, of this bill,

“I read the versions of the House [health reform] 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 needs real options for primary care, for mental health care, and for expanded health care for seniors and children.”

Although a large part of the reason he supported this bill was because of the Stupak/Pitts Amendment—-he still stands alone as the only Republican to do so.

For his bravery, in the face of an increasingly hostile and right-wing Republican Party, we go out of state and make Congressman Cao our Mensch of the Week.

Extra Mensch mentions: The remaining New Jersey Congressional delegation —Holt, Rothman, Pascrell, Pallone, Andrews, Payne, and Sires are all Mensches for supporting this bill.

Putz of The Week, Mensch of The Week 11/8/09