Poll: Markey right, Gardner wrong on health reform

In the wake of a Congressional Budget Office report finding that current health reform legislation would cut the deficit by $138 billion in ten years, Colorado Fourth District U.S. Rep. Betsy Markey confirmed that she planned to vote to pass the legislation this weekend. State Rep. Cory Gardner, the GOP frontrunner seeking to unseat Markey in November, wasted no time blasting her for the decision.

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Gardner took a familiar tactic among Republicans opposed to the legislation by claiming that Markey was “not listening” to her constituents. A Research 2000 Colorado poll however suggests Markey is the one listening to the majority of the residents of the Fourth District and that Gardner is listening to a minority.

Markey, who has been the target this week of a major pro-health reform campaign, said in a release that she was swayed by key changes in the legislation:

After closely studying the compromise health care reform bill and the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s fiscal analysis of it, I have decided to support it. In November, I made clear that I wanted to see a bill that meets the goals of affordability and coverage, improved access, and that is also fiscally sustainable in the long-term. This bill does all those things and more. It contains a series of tough cost containment provisions beyond those in the bill passed by the House, designed to bring down the skyrocketing costs of health care and reduce the deficit. In fact, this is the biggest deficit reduction bill to come before Congress in over a decade.

This isn’t about politics. This is about bringing down health care costs and doing what’s right for the people of Colorado, and I’m proud to support this historic bill.

Gardner said in a dueling release that he knew what Markey’s constituents wanted and he pledged to work to repeal the legislation should it pass:

“The residents of the 4th Congressional District have sent a clear message to Congresswoman Markey: do not vote for the healthcare legislation,” said Gardner. “She has decided not to listen to her district. When I am elected in November I will listen to the wishes of the 4th District. I will work and vote to repeal the healthcare legislation.”

Added Gardner: “If this legislation passes, taxes will go up,” continued Gardner. “This bill will inevitably lead to fewer choices in healthcare, fewer jobs and sweeping cuts to Medicare to the direct detriment of our and senior citizens.”

The exchange mirrors a face off between U.S. Senator Michael Bennet and GOP challenger Jane Norton last month. Norton said that in supporting health reform and a public option, Bennet was “demonstrating a disconnect with Coloradans on the issue of healthcare” and “crossing the line into outright contempt for their wishes.”

The data suggests Norton and Gardner are wrong.. Markey and Bennet are perhaps disconnected on the issue from the crowds that gather at the Tea Party events where Norton and Gardner are campaigning, but the Research 2000 poll, which randomly tapped 600 statewide likely 2010 general election voters, reports that clear Colorado majorities support reform.

In the Fourth District, for example, at least 57 percent of respondents were not just supportive of health reform but also of the public option and of strong Democratic leadership on the issue.

The poll was commissioned by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee along with Democracy for America, and Credo Action on January 30 and 31.

Here’s one of the relevant questions asked by the Research 2000 pollsters:

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