Democratic, GOP Leaders Are Ready to Rumble

Posted April 3, 2009 at 6:50am

The House and Senate leadership of both parties sent their Members home for the two-week spring recess with strict instructions to keep up the partisan war of words over the economy and budget.

House Republicans — like their Senate counterparts — will spend the recess trying to claim the mantle of fiscal responsibility by touting their economic policies over those passed by the Democratic Congress and promoted by the Obama administration.

House GOP Members are armed with a 34-page recess packet including quotes from “leading Democrats— who have, at one time or another, expressed concern about President Barack Obama’s budget, including Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (N.D.), Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.), House Budget Chairman John Spratt (S.C.) and Rep. Charlie Melancon (La.).

GOP Members are also encouraged to address upcoming issues like the “card check— union organizing bill, the housing crisis and stem-cell research.

Senate Republicans will get a significantly smaller playbook on the way out the door, with Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) opting for a more general set of talking points and message guidance. GOP Senators are advised to focus on economic concerns and the card check legislation.

For instance, the Conference suggests Senators do several types of events on card check legislation, including speeches to the local chamber of commerce, press conferences with workers who allege intimidation by union officials, small-business roundtables and activities with local bloggers, to highlight the GOP’s message on the controversial issue.

House and Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are closely coordinating with each other and the White House to drive home their message of “economic recovery and laying a long-term foundation for prosperity,— according to Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Pelosi’s office released recess materials Monday encouraging Members to talk about four major issue areas including economic recovery and the budget blueprint, strengthening the economy with affordable health care, creating clean energy jobs and reducing global warming.

Regarding the economic recovery plan, House Democrats were asked to “emphasize the unprecedented level of accountability in this package — and that the money in this package will be used for projects that create jobs, stimulate the economy and put us on track towards a more sound economic future.—

House Democratic freshmen and sophomores — many of whom represent districts hit hard by the mortgage foreclosure crisis — were advised to continue conversations about the housing issues, according to a Democratic aide.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) asked members of his Conference to hold a series of events highlighting these themes, including hosting townhall meetings on health care, press conferences with union members and others involved in transportation and infrastructure projects funded under the economic stimulus package, and visits to renewable energy companies, among others.

The Senate recess package includes repeated references to the “Republican Deficit— as Democrats seek to blunt GOP charges that the ongoing problems with the economy are the result of Democratic policies.

The recess memo argues that “Democrats have inherited one of the worst economic crises in our nation’s history and are confronting a REPUBLICAN DEFICIT created by years of irresponsible spending and misplaced priorities.—