The Democrats still haven't figured out that legislating as if their only priority is to keep their jobs is what makes so many voters want them gone:
The problem for Democrats is that voters have given them virtually no credit for these ambitious projects. The 111th Congress has the lowest average approval rating (19 percent) of any Congress heading into a midterm election since Gallup started tracking the measure in 1974. On key agenda items, Obama receives failing grades, with 38 percent of voters approving of his handling of the economy and 40 percent approving of his health-care approach, according to Gallup.
"They have the same problem as Republicans, which is, we're just trying to make it about Democrats," GOP pollster David Winston said. "And the public is saying, 'When is someone going to tell me what they're going to do?' The onus on both parties is: What is their plan to grow the economy and create jobs?"
Republicans have said they will not have a plan until late September, when they hope to unveil an agenda tentatively called a "Commitment With America."
And I'll bet it's just as awesome as the Contract On America!
Some endangered Democrats are thankful that there is no broad national agenda to answer for, preferring to run on local issues.
"We actually don't sit around talking about the national agenda," said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Ariz.), a second-term lawmaker whose election could turn almost entirely on the issue of border security. "A lot of the messaging that takes place in Washington doesn't make it 2,000 miles to Arizona."
Most Democrats want to focus the rest of this year and next on the economy, setting aside other issues, such as immigration reform, until job creation rebounds.
"Other major initiatives are in second place, need to stay on the sideline, until we get the economy back fully in gear," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
But Democrats find themselves in a box. Soaring annual deficits have made it fiscally and politically treacherous to propose another huge stimulus, leaving limited options for job creation.
Unless, of course, you saw it as part of your job to explain and lead... hah hah, just kidding!
So House Democrats are proposing less-ambitious proposals: a "Make It in America" plan, which closes tax benefits for businesses shipping jobs overseas and provides new hiring credits to local small businesses, and a proposal that would impose penalties on China for currency manipulation, the sort of measure that has often fallen flat in the free-trading Senate.
Obama and some Democrats also want to end the Bush-era tax cuts for the top 2 percent of income earners, which would save more than $600 billion over 10 years. But some senior Democrats, led by the Budget Committee chairman, Sen. Kent Conrad (N.D.), argue against raising any taxes while the economy is teetering on the brink of a double-dip recession. And the Democrats' plan to extend the middle-class portion of those tax cuts would increase deficits by around $3 trillion over the next decade.
I swear to God, their messaging on the subject of the deficit is abysmal. For instance: If you lost your job, would your family stop eating food to save money? How sensible would that be?
Deficit spending is a good idea when it's the right kind of spending. Chocolate bars and video games? Wrong kind. Gas in the tank to get to work? Right kind! Stimulus spending is gas in the tank.
It's really not that difficult -- assuming you're not an idiot, I mean.
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