The unemployment rate is still 7.8 percent, and the gross domestic product is growing at a sluggish 2 percent. Young people graduating college can’t find jobs and are living in their parents’ houses. Economies in Europe and Asia are weakening, suggesting additional problems in the year ahead for the U.S. economy.
And Democratic candidates, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC, a super PAC dedicated to electing Democrats to the House, are running ads on abortion, Planned Parenthood funding and stem cell research.
For the past couple of months, Democratic strategists have been trying to prosecute a case against the Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) budget and Medicare, charging that Mitt Romney and GOP Congressional candidates support tax cuts for the rich at the expense of the poor and programs that the middle class has come to depend on.
To a large extent, voters haven’t bought the Democratic message, which is why the party won’t make significant gains in the House. It is also why President Barack Obama is in a very tight race for re-election.
To reach swing voters, many Democratic strategists have returned to one of the party’s reliable themes: Republicans want to stop women from having access to legal abortion and to destroy Planned Parenthood, and they are so extreme that they oppose stem cell research that could save lives or help the seriously ill.
These kinds of ads have been run by Kathy Boockvar (D) against Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa,), former Rep. Dan Maffei (D) against Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.) and Julian Schreibman (D) against Rep. Chris Gibson (R-N.Y.).
In Texas, the House Majority PAC is running a TV spot against freshman GOP Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco that asserts that he supports the “personhood bill,” which prevents in vitro fertilization and will deny some people the ability to have a child. “Congressman Canseco thinks he can decide who can have a baby and who can’t,” a young woman says in the spot.
In Colorado, a House Majority PAC 60-second spot against Coffman is particularly noteworthy and, yes, controversial. It features a young man who, talking to camera, says that next year he will be “in a car accident” and will be “paralyzed for the rest of his life.” Next, a woman says “in 20 years, I’ll have Alzheimer’s,” and then a child says that “next week” her parents are going to find out she has diabetes.
The ad goes on to assert that Coffman opposes stem cell research. “Why would Mr. Coffman bet my life that he knows best?” the woman asks. “How come he gets to decide who lives and who dies?” the child asks later in the spot.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.