Democrats, GOP Fight for Winning Message on Stimulus

Posted February 17, 2010 at 10:48am

Congressional Democrats and Republicans scrambled Wednesday to put their spin on the one-year anniversary of the $787 billion stimulus that, depending on which party is talking, was either a boon or a bust for the economy.

Democrats kicked off an all-out offensive on the success of the measure: Several senior House Democratic aides this morning circulated a New York Times article hailing the stimulus for stabilizing the economy and adding an estimated 1.8 million jobs so far.

The Democratic National Committee launched a Web video bashing 93 Republicans who voted against the package, only to turn around and take credit for the benefits of the bill in their districts. The ad specifically targets House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.) and three Senators —Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) — for bashing the measure while praising its effects back home.

“Republicans don’t want to acknowledge that the Recovery Act has created jobs, many of them in their own districts, except when they’re asking for funding to create those very jobs,” the ad states.

Both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden are spending Wednesday touting the measure’s benefits.

Obama took to the airwaves to talk up the success of the stimulus, highlighting how “cleanly, smoothly and transparently” it has been carried out given its unprecedented scope. He emphasized that the economy was on the brink of a second Great Depression when he signed the bill into law a year ago with virtually no GOP support.

The stimulus is on track to “save another 1.5 million jobs in 2010,” Obama said. “Our work is far from over, but we have rescued the economy from the worst of this crisis.”

Biden said the “best is yet to come” with the stimulus in an opinion piece in USA Today. He said that while unemployment is still high, the stimulus has worked by slowing job loss, creating thousands of infrastructure projects and giving tax cuts to 95 percent of Americans.

Republicans, meanwhile, delivered the same message on the stimulus’ one-year anniversary as they did on its one-month anniversary: It was a waste of money and it failed to create jobs.

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) unveiled a 37-page report titled “Where are the Jobs?: A Look Back at One Year of So-Called ‘Stimulus'” that bashes Democrats for failing to deliver.

“Today’s anniversary of the Democrats’ trillion-dollar ‘stimulus’ marks one year of broken promises, bloated government and wasteful spending,” Boehner said in a statement.

Cantor pointed to the 3 million jobs that were lost in the past year as further evidence that the bill was a failure.

“Billions of dollars have been wasted and an unprecedented debt has been passed on to our children. These are not the results that America hoped for. Struggling small business owners, families and young workers see trillions in debt, on their tab, and still no job creation,” Cantor said in a statement.

Republican Study Committee Chairman Tom Price (Ga.) declared that the “experiment had officially failed.”

“Not only has the stimulus not brought us job growth as advertised, but it has put America in a perilous budget situation,” Price said in a statement. “Rather than the inability to create jobs, the lasting legacy of this epic failure, in fact, will be the decades it will take our children and grandchildren to cover the trillion dollar cost. Never has there been a more selfish act of public policy.”

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), ranking member on the Joint Economic Committee, lamented “the utter failure of the Obama, Pelosi and Reid stimulus on its one year anniversary.”

Brady said there was more money in the stimulus for “buying public artwork” than for helping small businesses, and he called for unspent funds to be returned to the Treasury.

The National Republican Congressional Committee sent e-mails into the districts of more than 70 House Democrats bashing them for voting for last year’s “failed stimulus.”

“What do they have to show for it? Not much if you ask the middle class families Loretta Sanchez was elected to represent. Instead of celebrating, Democrats like Sanchez are running for political cover,” reads the e-mail sent into Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s (D-Calif.) district.

Expect the GOP stimulus bashing to continue for the remainder of the week: Cantor, along with Republican Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Scott Garrett (N.J.) and Tom Rooney (Fla.), are holding a Thursday briefing at the Heritage Foundation on its failure.

Democrats will also be fighting to stay on offense. Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is hosting a roundtable discussion and a press conference Wednesday afternoon in San Francisco to tout the impact of the stimulus.