Democrats Struggle to Define Their Agenda
House Democrats have spent the past week dismissing the Republican agenda, “A Pledge to America,” as a budget-busting, irresponsible return to the Bush era.
But what’s the Democratic agenda if they actually retain majorities in Congress?
Some Democrats are in a damage-control mode, barely able to look past Nov. 2. Others are defensive, believing they just need to do a better job of explaining to the American people what they’ve done on health care, financial reform and jobs bills.
The official word on the Democratic agenda, if you listen to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is a vague promise to keep moving the country forward.
While defending an unpopular agenda, the idea of laying out a clear agenda for the 112th Congress is not yet taking hold, according to some Democrats.
“Not yet, not yet,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), when asked whether “moving forward” was a vision that’s resonating with voters. He said, “We’re so busy defending our record — and it is quite a record. If you look at what we accomplished, you may not like it, we have accomplished quite a bit in a very short period time, as compared to the other end of the building.”
One Democratic aide, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about party strategy, said it would be an “overload” for the party to build a new agenda in addition to talking about the party’s accomplishments over the past year.
Any talking about the future, another House leadership aide said, would leave a lawmaker “exposed” to attacks.
“Right now, a lot of our and Obama’s focus is minimizing the damage,” one Democratic lawmaker told POLITICO.