Today Senate Dems went there: They accused Republicans of deliberately sabotaging the economy in order to further their own political interests. And a senior Dem Senate aide tells me that Dems will not shy away from making that case in the weeks to come, if the Republicans keep blocking their efforts to spur job creation.
Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin made the charge in remarks to reporters today. Durbin said: “Unfortunately our Republican colleagues in the House and Senate are driven by putting one man out of work — President Obama.”
“Do Republicans really oppose a tax cut for businesses that created jobs? This is sort of beyond the pale. If they oppose even something so suited to their tastes ideologically, it shows that they’re just opposing anything that helps create jobs. It almost makes you wonder if they aren’t trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.”
Schumer is referring to GOP opposition to a White House proposal for a new temporary payroll tax cut as a means for job creation. Dems want the idea included in the forthcoming deficit deal; Republicans have opposed it, arguing that what we need are permanent tax cuts. This, plus GOP opposition to reauthorization of the Economic Development Agency — which prvides grants to local projects and once was supported by Republicans as good for job creation — finally prompted Dems to accuse Republicans today of deliberately trying to harm the economy for political reasons.
As Steve Benen points out, this represents the mainstreaming of an argument that had previously been made mostly by liberal bloggers and a few pundits: That Republicans are trying to hurt the economy on purpose. “At a minimum, it hardly seems unreasonable to call for some national discussion on this,” Benen notes.
So does this mean a shift in messaging strategy? No, not yet. The Dem message right now still remains this: Dems are proposing measures to create jobs; Republicans are blocking them. The questioning of GOP motives is not official Dem messaging — yet.
The economic sabotage argument is best understood as a shot across the bow — if Republicans continue to block Dem job creation initiatives, Dems will begin making this case in a more concerted way.
“For the time being, we are pressing the case that more needs to be done to spur job creation,” the senior Dem aide tells me. “If Republicans contnue to put up a brick wall of opposition to anything related on jobs, the only conclusion one could draw is that they’re deliberately blocking ways to encourage the economic recovery for political reasons.
“We will not shy away from making that case,” the aide concludes.