Weekly Obsession: Bluest of Blue Dogs votes against aid

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 3:21pm

It’s a guarantee that during every Congressional cycle, Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper will cast a vote that raises the cackles of the left wing.

His fierce fiscal convictions get him labeled as obstructionist or worse by folks more liberal than he. The wonkish Cooper is always ready with an explanation — more often than not, a very thorough explanation — for why he opposed the latest progressive plan.

He’s done it with the Clinton health-care reform package, with the bailouts, with part of the stimulus, and on and on.

And when Cooper does cast a nay against the wishes of the broader party, those to his left invariably call for a primary challenge, to oust this most cerulean of the Blue Dogs.

After all, they note, his district is heavily Democratic and, this logic follows, far more liberal than the moderate Cooper.

And again, invariably, any progressive wunderkind’s idealism is quashed once they take a gander at Cooper’s war chest — the Realpolitick of real politics trumping their grand vision.

So again it was last week when Cooper was the only Democrat to vote no on the $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package.

Earlier this month, Cooper voted to approve $9.7 billion in federal flood insurance and had supported a bill earlier that approved $17 billion in disaster relief.

But by the time the whole $50 billion came to the floor, it became a bridge too far for Cooper.

He explained that his vote was more of a statement against profligate Congressional spending — of course it was.

“The bill wasn’t paid for. In fact, it wasn’t even partially paid for. Congress really made no effort to pay for even a fraction of it, so it added $50 billion to the deficit. I did support last week $9 billion, free and clear. I did support in this legislation $20-plus billion free and clear, but the extra $30 billion really should have been at least partly paid for. This is consistent with my past votes on deficits and on disaster relief,” he told our Steven Hale.

Cooper earned the hypocrite label from the liberal commentariat. After all, he’d pushed for post-flood relief for Nashville. Cooper, again, pointed out that relief was “at least partially paid for.”

And the vote likely created some awkward moments at the Tennessee Democratic Party, which earlier had cast the Republican members of the state’s delegation as “disaster hypocrites” for similarly supporting Nashville relief and opposing Sandy. They boxed themselves into a corner by casting one of the few prominent remaining Tennessee Democrats with members of the opposition.

If nothing else, Cooper’s vote does look pharisaical. Disasters are sui generis. They aren’t politics-as-usual; that’s what makes them disasters. Even if the way they are paid for is broken, the time to point this out is probably not after the city you represent benefited from the broken system.

His vote is worthy of rebuke and there will be much of the usual chatter about primarying the vet legislator.

But, like all the other tries, this chatter will be fruitless too.

7 Comments on this post:

By: Moonglow1 on 1/24/13 at 9:07

Moonglow1: He should be ashamed. I hope during the next tornado his house gets smashed. Then perhaps he will change his tune. If these idiots in Congress would recognize climate change then they may be able to slow down some of the extreme weather patterns we are seeing which causes the devastation and hence the funding required.

If Congress was really concerned about the budget they would stop entitlements to big corporations like drug companies and in the case of Nashville give aways to HCA. .

By: courier37027 on 1/24/13 at 5:42

At one time there was a sign in a Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood yard keeping a toll on Iraq War deaths, especially during Bush presidency. I do not know if that sign still exists as Obama is commander-in-chief. Probably not, but will offer apologies if wrong.

What someone should do is make a similar running total sign indicating how much foreign aid Rep. Cooper sent and will send abroad, while zero is sent to the northeastern United States.

By: ConservativeSailor on 1/25/13 at 3:10

But he voted for the debt ceiling 3-month extension. Probable reason he voted against the Sandy relief bill was that it wasn't big enough. Nope. He voted against it because it wasn't paid for. Good on him. But that reasoning did not keep him from foring to raise the ceiling. By definition, debt isn'y paid for.
John Lowery

By: ConservativeSailor on 1/25/13 at 3:23

Moonglow mentioned climate change. I have to say it: Prior to the 14th century (the 1300's) there was a period called thr Medieval Warming Pwriod. Then, from the 1300's to the 1800's there was the Little Ice Age. Had glaciers advancing all over he world. Now we're coming out of that. Anthropogenic (man-caused) climate change is a crock. The IPPC emails prove the science was (and still is) bad.
Even if it was true, the process has gone on for 200 years. The only way to stop it is to convince China and India, 1/3 of the world's population, to do away with causative social behavior. You know. Like building the Three Gorges Dam. Like increasing their energy use. Like increasing their automobile population. But Kyoto exempts them (the biggest polluters) specifically because they are "3rd world" nations. They are 1/3 of the world nations. Now if we could stop all man-caused climate effects TODAY, it would take 200 years to get back where we were in 1800. If where we are today is man-caused.
Check volcanic eruptions, gases from places like Yellowstone, cow farts and decaying vegetation. Maybe Saran wrap for Yellowstone and corks for the volcanos and farts would help.
Rant over. Moon, get real. We didn't break it and we can't fix it.
John Lowery

By: gdiafante on 1/25/13 at 6:49

Some people are so blind...the climate is changing, as responsible custodians of the Earth, it's our duty to make sure we (1) aren't contributing, (2) don't exacerbate the issue and (3) don't hand a mess to future generations.

We can't control the climate completely, but why make it worse?

For simpletons, think of it like this, you don't shit where you eat.

To all who think the EPA and regulations regarding pollution are evil/government overreach, take a nice vacation to Beijing. Just don't forget your mask...

By: treehugger7 on 1/25/13 at 7:31

No question about it--Cooper needs to be primaried this year!! He does NOT reflect the district he represents!! I'm sick of his blue dogness! Pay attention to your constituents!! No votes for you!

By: woodnotes on 1/25/13 at 10:16


Exactly why I voted for him... Keep up the good work...