By Jared Allen - 05/31/10 12:56 PM EDT
House Democrats are being urged this recess to combine their electoral
sales pitch on issues like healthcare and jobs with warnings about how
a Republican Congress would jeopardize the party’s legislative
“Plan your public events, communications, and editorial board visits at home to highlight what Republican control of Congress would mean, and your hard work for the middle class on issues," the Memorial Day recess packet prepared for rank-and-file House Democrats reads. "Democrats have a strong story to tell, and we hope you’ll highlight this contrast with Republicans back home.”
"Democrats are for the people's interest; the Republicans are for the special interests," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said during her weekly press conference on Thursday. "Democrats are for the middle class and small businesses, Republicans are for big banks and insurance companies. That's the Democratic difference."
But as the midterm elections near, Democrats have been forced to confront more directly the possibility that their House majority is in danger. And now, front-line members of the Democratic caucus are being asked to sound the warning of a GOP takeback, hoping enough of the electorate will be convinced to keep Democrats in power.
The starkest contrast — and the one both parties believe is the most important to make clear — is on healthcare.
Republicans last week doubled down on their promise to repeal the recently-enacted healthcare law by formally introducing a bill to repeal it and replace it with the GOP alternative, a far more modest approach to increasing the number of insured.
Twenty Republicans co-sponsored the repeal-and-replace bill, including House Minority Leader John Boehner (Ohio), Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) and former Republican Whip Roy Blunt (Mo.).
Skeptical Democrats have come around to embrace healthcare as one of the party's best illustrations of why they should stay in power. But even the law's most ardent supporters in leadership acknowledge they have work to do to combat negative public perceptions of their reform effort.
"On health reform, all of us need to keep communicating — particularly with seniors — the tangible benefits that will make a very real difference in the lives of our constituents," the top four House Democrats wrote to colleagues in the recess packet introduction. "[W]e still need to clear up basic misinformation. ... We also must make clear how real the Republicans’ plans are to do away with these health reform benefits we are just starting to see."
Leaders also instructed their members to discuss with their constituents the Democratic record on jobs and tax cuts that were part of the economic stimulus bill. And they reminded caucus members that Memorial Day is a "great time" to talk up their credentials on national security issues ranging from veterans' care to the current overseas conflicts aimed at fighting terrorists.