Hoyer Acknowledges Public’s Anger, Points It Toward GOP
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that while he is “not happy” about a new poll indicating growing voter angst with Washington, D.C., he does not agree with a White House assessment that Democrats are in danger of losing the House in November.
Citing a new Washington Post-ABC News poll indicating 68 percent of voters lack confidence in Democrats in Congress, the Maryland Democrat told reporters that the public should direct its anger at Republicans, who he said were to blame for the economic situation that experts believe is a primary cause of voter discontent.
“The focus should be on not going back to the Bush-Republican failed policies and not to repeat the regulatory neglect,” Hoyer said, noting widespread GOP opposition to Democrats’ Wall Street reform bill. “Americans are angry. They were angry in ’06. They were angry in ’08. They changed leadership. They’re still angry. The economy is still not working the way it ought to work. We agree with that.”
The poll, released Tuesday, also registered poor marks for President Barack Obama: Six in 10 Americans say they don’t trust Obama to make the right decisions for the country. The glimmer of good news for Democrats is that Republicans fared slightly worse in terms of voters’ confidence in them.
Hoyer said that while he agreed — more or less — with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ July 11 assertion that enough Democratic seats were in play in November for Republicans to win back the House, he was confident that Democrats would retain control.
“The fact that they’re in play does not mean — by any stretch of the imagination — that I think we’re going to lose the House,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to lose the House.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has said Democrats will hold the House and suggested that Gibbs’ comments reflected an administration attempt to lower expectations ahead of what is expected to be a tough midterm election for Democrats.
The Majority Leader also struck against GOP criticism of a one-year “budget enforcement” document that Democrats narrowly passed July 1 in lieu of a normal five-year budget blueprint.
“This was not some superficial action without meaning,” Hoyer said, noting that the budget enforcement resolution set discretionary spending $7 billion below Obama’s request and $3.2 billion below the level set by the Senate Budget Committee.
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), whose committee adopted a five-year budget, has said he was disappointed the House opted not to follow the normal budget process.
Hoyer said that while he would have preferred the House to take action on a five-year budget resolution, that was politically unfeasible this year, and he defended the one-year blueprint as an adequate tool to ensure fiscal discipline.
“For anyone to pretend that we haven’t take action on a budget is incorrect,” he said.
Republicans have seized on the one-year budget document to accuse Democrats of fiscal irresponsibility.