Senate Democrats outlined their recess message strategy Thursday, saying they would spend the five-week break drawing a sharp contrast with Republicans on the economic recovery.
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said the “question for the summer of 2010 is whose side are you on.” Democrats will argue that Republican delay tactics in the chamber are “all about stalling … all about denying the opportunity for us to grow this economy,” he said.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse said the message campaign for August is intended to “prepare for an active September session.”
The Rhode Island Democrat said September will feature action on efforts to repeal tax breaks for companies that send jobs overseas, an oil spill liability bill, a stalled small-business lending measure and an extension of tax cuts for the middle class enacted under President George W. Bush. Whitehouse said taxes would be allowed to rise for higher-income families.
“If the Republicans want to stop us from extending the Bush tax cuts in order to protect CEOs and people making $250,000 a year, we’re prepared to have that discussion,” Whitehouse said.
He acknowledged that there appears to be a lot of voter anger over the economy, but he said the “best way to respond … is with these clear contrasts” between the parties.
Menendez quipped that voters should put their car in “D’ and drive for Democrats” instead of putting their cars in “R’ and reverse for Republicans.”
Menendez said the month would likely be spent talking about “kitchen table” issues such as jobs and the economy, not issues such as immigration and climate change. But he held out hope that those issues might get action in a post-election, lame-duck session.
In a statement Thursday, Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) said Republicans would spend the month detailing how Democratic policies have hurt the economy.
“It’s harder to create jobs when you propose a national energy tax; it runs jobs overseas,” Alexander said, referencing the GOP’s characterization of Democrats’ climate change proposal. “It’s harder to create jobs when you propose ending the secret ballot in union elections, and now, we see the proposal is to raise taxes on half the small-business income in the middle of a recession.” Republicans have charged that Democrats’ plans to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire will have an adverse effect on small businesses, a charge that Democrats have vigorously disputed.
“We need a change in direction, a change that focuses on creating a pro-growth environment for private-sector jobs instead of a series of policies, like the ones Democrats are pushing, that make it harder to create jobs,” Alexander said.