By Susan Ferrechio
Chief Congressional Correspondent
President Obama has sought to buttress Democratic hopes in November by blaming the nation's economic woes on his predecessor, while members of his own party are poised to reject his latest stimulus and tax proposals and some Democrats are running against the president's policies.
Democrats in the House and Senate are in no mood to pass a new spending bill or raise taxes, even for the upper-income brackets, as they face withering poll numbers, a climbing unemployment rate and a staggering national debt. One vulnerable freshman Democrat, Rep. Mark Critz of Pennsylvania, has even called Obama's stimulus bill “misguided.”
House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar, D-Minn., conceded last week that Democrats cannot come up with enough votes to pass a proposed $50 billion infrastructure improvement bill before Congress adjourns for the November election.
Obama's plan to allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire for upper-income families faces even bigger opposition among Democrats and has little chance of passing now or even in a so-called “lame duck” session after the election, mostly because moderate Senate Democrats oppose it.
Yet Obama will be hitting the campaign trail promoting these new measures, even as some endangered Democrats work to distance themselves from him in Congress and back home in their districts.
“These proposals are meant to both accelerate job growth in the short term and strengthen the economy in the long run,” Obama told reporters Friday.
According to elections watchers, House Republicans in November could easily pick up more than the 39 seats they need to recapture the majority from the Democrats in the House and perhaps the nine seats they need to retake the Senate.
As Obama attacks Republicans on the campaign trail, endangered Democrats are running from the president and his plan.
Critz, along with Sen. Michael Bennet, of Colorado and candidate Stephene Moore, who is running for a Kansas House seat, are among several Democrats to publicly reject the proposals.
“Fifty billion dollars of additional government spending will do little to create permanent jobs and will only add to our massive deficit,” Critz said. “That's why I strongly oppose the president's misguided plan.”
While Obama did not address the dissent within his own party, he acknowledged Friday that he may have to compromise on his proposal to let tax cuts expire for those earning more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000.
One deal under discussion in Congress would extend the tax cuts for all income levels until next year. “Certainly there's going to be room for discussion,” Obama said when asked about that proposal.
Obama said between now and Election Day, he plans to “remind the American people … that the policies that we have put in place have moved us in the right direction, and the policies that the Republicans are offering right now are the exact policies that got us into this mess.”
Republicans lashed out at this tactic.
“The president spent a lot of time blaming others and talking about more government spending,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.
But Democratic strategists say Obama's tactic will steer voters away from blaming Democrats for the sour economy.
“They are taking a smart and strategic position to remind people that this election is a choice, as opposed to a referendum on the direction of the country,” said Chris Lehane, a Democratic political consultant.