Earlier this week, my friend Eric Ostermeier at Smart Politics predicted a historical level of wins for the GOP in gubernatorial races. At least one group of people seem to agree with Eric: Democratic governors. And they’re pretty clear about who they blame for it, too:
Democratic governors facing grim budget choices, lingering unemployment and angry voters are pointing a finger at their colleagues in Democratic-controlled Washington to explain this year’s toxic political climate.
Few will fault President Barack Obama directly for their party’s plight heading into the fall midterm elections, but the chief executives gathered here for the National Governors Association (NGA) meeting believe the Congress and White House have made an already difficult year worse. …
“I think the bottom line is they’re not seeing the jobs that should have came from it,” said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, explaining why voters in his state were dissatisfied with the massive spending bill. “Are we just protecting government or are we really stimulating the economy? Maybe it’s too early too tell.”
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter said expectations for the immediate impact of bill were set too high.
“They may have oversold the job creation part of it,” observed Ritter, whose 2006 election heralded a Democratic resurgence in the Mountain West and whose decision not to run for re-election this year has illustrated the party’s declining fortunes in the region.
“They’re not satisfied with the pace of job recovery that they expected when the Recovery Act was passed,” he said of his state’s citizens. “Whether the President of the United States inherited this situation or not, he’s now owning it. For the federal government, this administration and the Congress to have not delivered [jobs] more quickly has become the problem.”
They also unveiled what the party line will be in the fall:
“They didn’t do a good enough job from the get go explaining and getting everybody to understand that we can go off the cliff into a depression or spend money now and go into a recession,” said Gregoire, who is in her second term.
In fact, they didn’t make that case at all, at least not with Porkulus. That was the argument from Congress and the Bush administration for the initial TARP bill, but the Obama administration’s only involvement with that was using it to bail out automakers — and to refuse use it to cover some of its deficit spending. The argument for Porkulus was that it would keep unemployment under 8%, and that without it unemployment would go up to 10%. The only reason we’re not over 10% now is that so many people have left the workforce; we’re at a generational low on civilian population participation in the workforce.
Democrats in Washington may be locked in an ivory tower, but governors have to deal with people outside of the Beltway. They have a much better idea of how badly that argument will go over outside of Washington DC, even if a Washington governor offers it.