Politics No economic package? No problem: Even without a budget deal, parties already shaping their messages
Slow progress on budget package with deadline weeks away
As the Senate prepared to head into a weeklong recess, Democrats showed little sign they were making progress on their economic agenda other than clearing the must-pass measures competing for their time. Last week’s enactment of a government funding stopgap through Dec. 3 and the $480 billion debt ceiling boost that will punt the deadline for […] The post Slow progress on budget package with deadline weeks away appeared first on Roll Call.
WASHINGTON – No one knows for sure what will be in the Democrats' massive economic package, or whether they will even pass one – but that hasn't stopped them or the Republicans from developing campaign messages about a government overhaul that could decide the 2022 elections.
Their success in reaching voters could decide the fate of Joe Biden's presidency and partisan control of Congress.
With Democrats holding oh-so-slim majorities over Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate, both parties are furiously trying to find the right message.
Senate passes $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill in big win for Democrats
The Senate passed a $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Tuesday with support from members on both sides of the aisle. The measure passed by a vote of 69-30, with 19 Republicans joining all Senate Democrats to advance the bill out of the Senate chamber.
And those new messages will get drummed into voters: The parties will likely have more money to spend than ever before. The cost of the 2022 congressional elections is expected to exceed the $5.9 billion spent in the 2018 midterms, a record sum for federal elections as calculated by the
Biden and the Democrats describe the bulk of their plan as; to Republicans, it's
Shaping a message when nothing's final
Republicans and Democrats know that Biden's plans will be big issues in 2022, but they don't know exactly how they will play out when most voters start to pay attention in the weeks before Election Day on Nov. 8.
Universal pre-K, free community college tuition: What's in $3.5T budget bill
Universal pre-K and 2-years free community college tuition part of the $3.5 trillion budget resolution targeting social issues that Democrats unveiled Monday. The legislative language comes just as the Senate is preparing to complete its work on a separate $1.1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill late Monday or early Tuesday morning. Taken together, the bills are designed to comprise the whole of Biden's American Families Plan priorities.
Legislators are negotiating the final details of Biden-backed economic legislation – which might not even pass. Candidates also don't know what the condition of the economy will be in the fall of 2022, or the status of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other major issue that might pop up between now and then.
"The elections in 2022 are all about conditions in the country," said nonpartisan political analyst Stuart Rothenberg. "How is the economy? How is COVID? ... Things like that."
Still, campaign officials in both parties say they need to be ready to make their cases now.
"They're going to have to pass something – they have to," Rothenberg said . "A huge part of the discussion will be about the package."
Democrats hope to pass a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, a debt ceiling increase and so-called social infrastructure bill full of progressive priorities. That last bill is still under intense negotiations and could come in anywhere between $1.5 trillion and $3.5 trillion.
Joe Manchin Supports First Step in $3.5T Infrastructure Bill, No Promises on Full Measure
A budget resolution for the spending package needs to be passed before lawmakers can begin drafting a larger bill that would detail tax and spending plans.A vote from every Democrat in the Senate, which is split 50-50 along party lines, as well as a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, would be needed for the budget's approval. This passage needs to happen before lawmakers can begin drafting a larger bill, likely in fall, that would detail tax and spending goals for the package, the Associated Press reported.
Even with the final results up in the air, Republicans already are casting Democrats as "tax and spend" elites; Democrats plan to stress specific programs in the bill such as child care and free community college while hitting the GOP for trying to block those kinds of initiatives.
Hunting for pork
Economist Stephen Moore, who heads up a coalition of more than 40 groups to oppose the Biden plan, said activists are scouring the proposed bills for examples of pork, waste and bad programs that can be spotlighted on the campaign trail.
The GOP and its associated political organizations are already zeroing in on a Biden plan to increase IRS enforcement. The anti-tax group Club For Growth, which this month financed a $250,000 ad buy targeting six vulnerable House Democrats, said Biden wants to give the IRS "almost unfettered access to your personal and private financial information."
Democrats said the proposed changes are designed to crack down on tax cheating and to make sure wealthy people pay their fair share – a key part oft their own campaign on behalf of the proposed Biden economic plan.
How Democrats can rebuild their 'blue wall' in the Midwest
There is evidence that when older industrial communities decline, residents are more receptive to polarizing rightwing messages. But there is also compelling evidence that where former "Rust Belt" communities find new economic footing, the lure of resentful populism wanes as residents grow more optimistic about the future.This has been the case in the Midwest. Residents of industrial communities that have made the transition to a new economy exhibit different attitudes and voting patterns than those in communities that still struggle. Resurgent industrial communities, such as Pittsburgh, Pa.
The parties often highlight discrete parts of massive legislation during campaigns. During the 1994 midterm elections, the Republicans attacked "midnight basketball" programs for inner-city young people, part of Democratic President Bill Clinton's anti-crime bill. Never mind that GOP lawmakers had supported midnight basketball programs in the past; the issue helped the GOP take control of Congress with the 1994 elections.
When it comes to 2022, Republican Party spokesperson Emma Vaughn said, "now is not the time for trillions more in inflationary spending and higher taxes, which will continue to leave working families behind."
Republicans will get a lot of outside help when it comes to pushing that message.
The American Action Network, a conservative issue advocacy group that is targeting vulnerable House Democrats, announced in September a $7.5 million ad campaign to "stop" the Democrats' "$3.5 trillion tax and spending proposal." The ads that attack Democrats in two dozen congressional districts say that "liberals spend your money but take care of themselves – it's a cynical Washington game."
These campaign plans assume the Democratic-run Congress will pass something over the next two months. If not, Republican candidates plan to assail the Democrats as in disarray, unable to get anything done.
Democrats face tough choices over major economic package in pivotal week ahead
With a debt limit crisis averted for now, the Democratic Party's effort to finalize a sweeping economic package to expand the social safety net will be front-and-center on Capitol Hill this week. © Samuel Corum/Getty Images WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 23: (L-R) U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) emerge from the Speakers office after a bipartisan group of Senators and White House officials came to an agreement over the Biden administrations proposed infrastructure plan at the U.S. Capitol on June 23, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Touting tax increases
Democrats, meanwhile, are looking at a relatively new tack for next year: promoting tax hikes. The tax question has made Democrats skittish in the past, but campaign officials say they will stress Biden's plans to have the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes while actually cutting taxes for other Americans.
Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson said there's no longer any reason for Democrats to fear the tax question – polls show most Americans support a fairer and more equitable tax system. In this case, he added, the Democratic plan is aimed at people making more than $400,000 a year, while tax reductions will benefit low-income and middle-class Americans.
"The problem for the Republicans is people want the wealthy to pay more and working people pay less," he said.
Jazmin Vargas, spokesperson for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said Democrats "are working to address Americans’ most important priorities," while Republicans are trying to block things like tax relief for families, job creation and lower health care costs.
"It’s a losing position for Republicans," Vargas said.
As they brace to defend the Senate and the House, Democrats plans to stress specific items in their legislation, programs they say address long-neglected needs: home-based care for seniors, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, clean energy and universal child care.
Five things in China's past shaping Xi's world view
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"It is a vast bill," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "It has a lot in it, and we will have to continue to make sure the public does. But whether they know it or not, they overwhelmingly support it."
Like their conservative counterparts, outside progressive groups are gearing up to campaign in support of Biden.
Some are already at it. Tax March and allied progressive groups announced a $2 million campaign to pressure Republicans in competitive states like Ohio and Wisconsin to support Biden's economic plans.
Like their Republican counterparts, Democrats are already making their 2022 campaign cases.
A group of North Carolina Democrats called a news conference this week, a year before a key U.S. Senate race, to promote the Biden program and castigate Republican opposition.
"Democrats have a vision to not only bring us out of the pandemic but invest in our future," said Bobbie Richardson, chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. "Republicans have set their sights on obstruction."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Senators gird for all-nighter 'on steroids' to propel $3.5T Democratic plan .
Republicans have held back on painful amendments to the bipartisan deal, saving their firepower for Democrats' spending plan.Democrats plan to take up the $3.5 trillion budget resolution immediately after the bipartisan infrastructure bill passes the Senate, kicking off the reconciliation process for their massive domestic package that lacks any Republican support. With a slow amendment process on the bipartisan bill and former Sen. Mike Enzi’s (R-Wyo.) funeral scheduled for Friday, the start of budget action will almost certainly cut into August recess.