Blue Dog Democrats have defended their reluctance on health care legislation by saying their moderate constituents can't stomach a bill that's too far to the left. A new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll, however, shows that at least one Blue Dog, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), is not representing his district's desires. Sixty percent of those polled disapprove of the lawmaker's actions on health care, and 61 percent favor a public option.
That's even higher than the 44 percent of Montanans polled that disapproved of Sen. Max Baucus' (D-Mont.) work on health care.
Cooper was instrumental in helping kill health care reform under President Clinton. Ezra Klein explained:
Cooper was, from the beginning, an enemy of reform, not a constructive participant seeking compromise. He did not survey the assembled bills and try and forge a deal. Rather, he did everything he could to undermine the Clinton plan, and played a key role in destroying its chances by shattering the Democratic legislative strategy ("Thwarted on the Republican side of the aisle, Dingell turns back to his Democrats -- and once again finds Jim Cooper standing in his way.") and peeling off Blue Dogs and business. Without even the pretense of party unity, there was never the underlying foundation to force negotiations among the key players -- and so, contrary to Brad's claims, Cooper should be remembered not for trying to cut a deal, but for undermining the conditions and legislation that would've allowed a deal to have been cut. He was out for his campaign contributors and, as a read of The System makes clear, his own glory. He wanted to be the dealmaker of health care. He wanted it so bad that he killed the damn thing.
The poll suggests that if Cooper again moves against a public option, it could affect his reelection prospects. Thirty-four percent of all voters and 47 percent of Democrats said that if Cooper opposed a public insurance option, they would be less likely to vote for him.
The congressman, however, isn't worried. In a statement to the Nashville Scene, he said:
"Private polls are inherently inaccurate, and most people disregard them. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and the Daily Kos got what it wanted. The whole premise of the poll is that I oppose a public option, and that is simply not true. I have repeatedly said that I'm FOR a public option, and that there are multiple ways to do it. I agree with Sen. Chuck Schumer's position on the issue, and the Daily Kos is not attacking him.
"The Daily Kos can assign a false position to me if it wants, but it's not accurate."
While Cooper has stated his support for a public option, he has also said that Democrats don't have the votes to pass it without Republican support.