As Allah wrote of last night’s Senate vote to block the president’s jobs bill, the outcome was just about as perfect as it could have been for the president, whose jobs package — loaded as it was with tax hikes Republicans were bound to reject out of hand — wasn’t designed to pass in the first place. The vote last night provides the basis for Democrats to blame Republican obstructionism for the next 13 months of a slow-to-no recovery — and blame ’em they will. But they won’t just blame “Generic Republicans.” As the Senate now lays its plans to vote piece by piece on the American Jobs Act, Democrats are tightening their message against the Tea Party.
According to a memo now circulating from New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, Democrats consider the Tea Party’s growing unpopularity as the GOP’s “Achilles heel” — and they’ll exploit that for all its worth. An excerpt from the memo:
By linking the GOP to its extreme Tea Party fringe, Democrats can bolster the prospects for the president’s jobs ideas, or at least make clear who is responsible for the stalling of the recovery.
Democrats can make this link by branding the school of thought that resists against any job-creation measures as “Tea Party economics.” The opponents of the President’s jobs proposals should be invoked as “Tea Party Republicans.” If their obstruction continues, it will risk a “Tea Party recession.”
The memo employs its own strategy, referring repeatedly to “Tea Party economics” and to “Tea Party Republicans.” It also drives home that the debt ceiling debate did more to damage the Tea Party brand than it did to damage the brand of establishment Republicans or Democrats. That’s disappointing, given that many Tea Partiers originally demanded Cut, Cap and Balance in return for a debt ceiling increase and the final deal that emerged was a far cry from that. In other words, in the midst of that debate, Tea Partiers in Congress compromised every bit as much or more as any other contingent in Congress.
But Democrats will only be successful at demonizing the Tea Party if Tea Partiers cease to make the case that has always been at the core of the Tea Party movement. It boils down to this: The $14,695,102,108,238 debt is an enormous drag on the economy and it costs jobs. When debt reaches 90 percent of GDP (ours is higher than that!), the economy loses about 1 percent of growth each year. That translates to 1 million jobs annually.
Republicans rightly voted against the American Jobs Act last night because the first stimulus was a miserable failure and because more spending will just add to the debt that’s dragging down the economy in the first place. Yes, the president’s plan was “paid for” with tax hikes. But Barack Obama has yet to be serious about a long-term plan to cut spending. Democrats are fond of saying that Republicans oppose “revenues,” that they’re not open to any tax hikes whatsoever. But Republicans have introduced tax reform proposals that would close tax loopholes on the corporate side just as the president says he wants (but hasn’t substantively done anything to bring about, probably because that would affect his ability to engage in crony capitalism). What Republicans opposed last night are tax hikes to fund more spending totally unaccompanied by any deficit and debt reduction plan. What’s so wrong with that?
What Schumer’s memo underscores is the need to take the case to the American people — from which the Tea Party emerged, after all. Hate to say it, but the president has done an effective job doing just that with the AJA. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, the American people trust the president on the issue of jobs more than they trust Republicans by a 49 percent to 34 percent margin. Before he toured the country to tout his jobs package, Americans trusted Obama and Republicans about equally on the issue of job creation. The president is able to make his bill sound sensible, but only when Republicans fail to unmask it for what it is — a second stimulus, as likely to be only about as successful as the first.
Update: Good or bad news for Mitt Romney that Ds will target him as a “Tea Party Republican,” too?
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer expressed confidence Wednesday that Democrats would still be able to frame Mitt Romney as a “tea party candidate,” despite the former Massachusetts governor’s rifts with large portions of that constituency.
Speaking at a “Third Way” breakfast this morning, Schumer said Romney is carrying the “standard tea party line” when it comes to the economy.
“Mitt Romney doesn’t have any plans for the economy either. He has the standard tea party line. The tea party may not like him on social issues, the tea party may not agree with his view on healthcare. But on the basic economics, he’s followed the tea party line and I don’t think he can shake it,” said the former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman.