By Ian Swanson - 07/17/09 09:47 AM EDT
House Republicans are attacking House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) in an effort to highlight increased spending under Democratic leaders.
“Wisconsin is losing jobs, yet David Obey is focused on spending your money and carrying water for Nancy Pelosi's failed stimulus bill,” an announcer intones in the call.
“Dave Obey and Nancy Pelosi’s stimulus bill adds nearly a trillion dollars to the deficit — at a time when Wisconsin families are hurting.”
Republicans have stepped up their attacks on the stimulus as the unemployment rate has continued to increase. Their arguments have prompted spirited defenses of the stimulus from President Obama and Vice President Biden.
Obey crafted much of the $787 billion stimulus bill passed in February, and he is in charge of shepherding through the House the 12 bills funding the government for 2010.
The calls aren’t likely to put Obey in any electoral danger. He has served in the House since 1969 and hasn’t faced a competitive race since 1994, when Democrats struggled nationwide.
But Republicans hope that the attack ties Obey and other top Democrats to the struggling economy. The ad notes that the unemployment rate in Wausau, Wis. — Obey's hometown — is nearly 13 percent.
Obey's spokesman dismissed the ad as “another partisan attack” from national Republicans. Ellis Brachman, a spokesman for Obey on the Appropriations Committee, argued that Republicans would rather do nothing to fight unemployment and fix the healthcare system.
“It's the same Bush crowd who ran the country’s economy into the ditch and produced the worst economic collapse of our lifetime, now attacking President Obama and people like Congressman Obey for their efforts to pull us out of the ditch,” Brachman said.
Two GOP challengers, Sean Duffy, the Ashland County district attorney, and Dan Mielke, who lost to Obey in 2008, have announced bids to try to unseat Obey next year.