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Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN): Before He Was For the Stimulus, He Voted Against It

Among the finer arts mastered by unprincipled politicians is the art of opposing policies one day, then showing up the next to take credit when their constituents begin to see the benefits of the policies that these unprincipled politicians had opposed.

Jindal Dance 09

Earlier this year, for example, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) proved that he was all too willing to do this dance.

Last February, Gov. Jindal (R-LA) dazzled us with his first bold step, saying that he wasn’t all that interested in taking the approximately $4 billion allocated to his state as a result of the Stimulus Bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

Then, as federal money started flowing into Louisiana, he realy got his groove on, making a victory tour to take credit for the very stimulus money he had said he didn’t want in his state, while simultaneously mocking the stimulus as “stimulus that has not stimulated” in an op-ed entitled ‘A trillion here, a trillion there’ (7/20/09) at Politico.

As Lee Fang put it in “Jindal Tours Louisiana Attacking ‘Washington Spending’ While Handing Out Jumbo-Sized Stimulus Checks” (7/23/09) at Think Progress:

Despite the fact that the checks contain millions of dollars of Recovery Act funds for job training programs, housing assistance programs, homelessness prevention programs, police training, criminal justice technology upgrades, and community development block grants, Jindal has been printing his own name on the checks and taking credit for the money.

Jindal’s dance was insidious, and his ability to bust out these dance moves without ever acknowledging how stupid he looked as he was doing it is kind of impressive.

You would think that this is the kind of thing that only Republicans do, right?

Well, think again.

Jim Cooper (D-TN-5)

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-05) likes doing it, too, so much so that he does it again and again.

No, he didn’t make a victory tour, happily handing out stimulus checks with his signature on them while simultaneously mocking the stimulus in an op-ed.

But he did show that he can dance, too. Just as Gov. Jindal made his first move in February, Rep. Cooper made his first step earlier, in January, when he backed up the Republican House Minority leadership by joining with Republicans, who were and remain united in opposing all-things-Obama for no other reason than to oppose Democrats, and voting against the Stimulus Bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009).

That’s right. The Stimulus Bill passed without a single Republican voting in favor of it in the House and despite the fact that Rep. Cooper voted against it, too. But no matter. It’s a Democratic victory nonetheless and, hey, Rep. Cooper has a "D" after his name.

So, as money now flows into Tennessee’s 5th Congressional district, Rep. Cooper got his groove on, too, pulling out his Democratic Party membership card and issuing presses releases like this one that came out of his office a few weeks ago:

At a time when more and more people are turning to food banks for help, I am pleased that Second Harvest Nashville will receive these funds to help continue providing necessary services to our community.

He’s pleased? He’s really pleased? Ok, but maybe he should have told his constituents in his press release that he didn’t want them ever to receive these funds in the first place, that he voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

And the stimulus that, as Rep. Cooper now proudly states, will “help continue providing necessary services to our community” is by no means limited to Nashville. In “Stimulus to aid Tenn. food banks” (10/16/09), Nashville, Tennessee’s ABC affiliate, WKRN News Channel 2, reports that:

The Second Harvest Food Bank in Knoxville will receive $111,729 in federal funds, the Mid-South Food Bank in Memphis will receive $150,118, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank $55,005 and the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee $50,994.

So, Rep. Cooper voted against the Stimulus Bill (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and now shamelessly issues press releases saying that he’s pleased that his constituents in TN-05 and Tennesseans across the state are receiving the stimulus money.

A complete list of all the organizations and local communities in Rep. Cooper’s district – indeed, throughout Tennessee and the entire country – that will receive federal stimulus money at a time of great need would be heartening, but too long for this entry.

Perhaps one more example of the benefits of the Recovery Act that Rep. Cooper’s constituents are now seeing will suffice.

The documents at this link (PDF) show the amounts of stimulus money that the Nashville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) applied for and how much of those amounts the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County have accepted – millions of dollars – for replacing and upgrading sidewalks, reconstructing approximately seven traffic signals and optimizing traffic signal timing at approximately 300 intersections, resurfacing and marking roads, upgrading ramps and curbs, and other work all intended to improve pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular safety in Rep. Cooper’s district.

Don’t be surprised when Rep. Cooper issues press release after press release locally to let his constituents, some of whom he must be hoping won’t notice that he voted against the stimulus, know how pleased he is now that they, the people of his district, are receiving this stimulus money, which he never wanted them to get in the first place (though this stimulus money will make the projects mentioned above and many other things possible).

Maybe by continuing to call himself a Democrat and issuing such press releases locally, he can continue to work against the interests of his constituents in the Unite States House of Representatives and continue to score political points that he does not deserve back home.

Related Posts and Diaries:

David Dayen’s Jim Cooper Discusses Stupak Amendment Without Revealing He Voted For It (11/9/09).

Knoxville’s Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN-5): Lessons Not Learned? (11/6/09), about Cooper’s non-position position on health care reform (his attempt to have it both ways for months) and about his rudeness to Nashville physicians in August, concluding with the point that Jane Hamsher made here at Firedoglake on August 24, 2009:

If any primary challengers in TN-05 were waiting for a signal that Jim Cooper was vulnerable, the Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of his district should be a welcome signal.

Knoxville’s Rep. Cooper’s (D-TN05) Vote on H.R. 3962 (11/7/09), about Cooper’s explanation for why he decided to vote ‘yes’ on H R 3962, by which vote he really meant ‘no’ on H R 3962. I concluded this post saying

Jim Cooper’s modus operandi is painfully obvious. I really hope that a decent challenger comes forward to oppose him in the 2010 primary so that I’ll have the opportunity to help oust this ridiculous character.

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