Democratic Congressman: Obama Has Been Disappointed by Pelosi’s Pork

By Caitlin Taylor

Feb 4, 2009 7:47am

On Liberadio (!) on Super Bowl Sunday, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., said that the White House has conveyed to Democratic leaders its displeasure at the amount of "pork" in the stimulus package.

Cooper, one of 11 Democrats who voted against the bill, said that he "actually got some quiet encouragement from the Obama folks for what I’m doing because they know its a messy bill and they wanted a clean bill."

Continued Cooper, a conservative "Blue Dog" Democrat, "Now, I got in terrible trouble with our leadership because they don’t care what’s in the bill, they just want it passed and they want it to be unanimous.
They don’t mind the partisan fighting cause that’s what they are used to. In fact, they’re really good at it. And they’re a little bit worried about what a post-partisan future might look like."

He implied that Members of Congress don’t "read the bills and figure out whether they’re any good or not. We’re just told how to vote. We’re treated like mushrooms most of the time." As opposed to the past, when the erstwhile Democratic Study Group would analyze legislation and provide pros and cons, "now we don’t get good information about the bill. They don’t really want you think about it. They want you to vote blindly with the Democratic leadership every time."

Democratic leaders are often right in their analyses, Cooper said, but "they’re not perfect, (and) sometimes they’re disappointing our President."

The Obama White House is in a "tough" situation, Cooper said: "They want to keep the Speaker happy and the traditional Democratic leaders, but they’ve let them know privately they’re not interested in all this pork."

The Liberadio (!) interview was first flagged by the Nashville Post and given more attention by our friend Glenn Thrush at Politico.

– jpt

UPDATE: Cooper today released the following statement:

“At no point did any member of President Obama’s staff encourage me to vote against the House economic recovery bill. I told them I believed that the bill had too much long-term spending and didn’t meet the president’s goal of getting 75% of the money into the economy within 18 months. After the conversation, I felt encouraged that the administration understood those concerns and shared my longstanding commitment to fiscal responsibility.”

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