In recent weeks, there’s been some question as to how far Dems are willing to go in making the explosive charge that Republicans are deliberately trying to sabotage the economy in order to improve their chances of defeating President Obama in 2012.
On a conference call just now with reporters, Senator Chuck Schumer made the most aggressive case we’ve heard yet along these lines, leaving little doubt that Dems are locking in behind this message as the deficit talks hit crunch time and as the 2012 campaign looms.
“Do they simply want the economy to go down the drain to further their political gain?” Schumer asked. “They seem to be against anything that may create jobs, because they view a weak economy as key to their political chances in 2012.”
“It’s an uncomfortable question, to be sure,” Schumer continued. “Are they trying to undermine the economy on purpose, for political gain? Harry Truman had a do-nothing Congress. The Republicans seem to be trying to make this a do-nothing-on-the-economy Congress.”
The latest evidence of this, according to Schumer: GOP Senators boycotted a hearing yesterday on three pending free trade deals they once supported.
“If there’s one thing the GOP has stood for throughout their history, it’s free trade,” Schumer said. “When Senator Baucus unveiled an agreement to proceed, you would have thought Republicans would jump for joy. Instead, Republicans took us down the rabbit hole once again.”
“Are Republicans opposing yet another measure they once supported simpy because that measure might be good for the economy?” Schumer asked, also citing GOP opposition to recent measures like a payroll tax cut and to small business development programs.
Pressed by a reporter on whether he really believes the GOP wants to destroy the economy on purpose, Schumer went further than ever before and took this out of the realm of the hypothetical.
“It’s a thought you don’t want to believe,” Schumer said, “but every day they keep giving us more and more evidence that there’s no choice but to answer Yes.”
The key point here is that Dem messaging chief Schumer is signaling that each example like this will now be pressed into service to build the larger case that Republicans have decided that a worse economy for the country is better politically for them, so any measure that risks creating jobs must be opposed at all costs. It seems like a clear effort to bait the GOP into responding to the charges, so the country can hear an argument over the GOP’s true motives. This line of attack also seems designed to persuade voters — and commentators who are reluctant to accept this sort of thing — that No, both sides are not equally to blame for our current travails.