Jon Tester: Senate Dems’ canary in the coal mine

Nelson, who negotiated the “Cornhusker Kickback” and is basking in massive Democrat party spending for his reelection, may try to cut the same deal again.  McCaskill, once one of Obama’s closest Senate colleagues, has to decide whether to support a second big-ticket stimulus when her constituents (and most Americans) viewed it as an expensive failure.

More likely, those facing tough reelection fights will smell the same danger Tester has: that President Obama’s latest jobs bill is less a real jobs program with any chance of passage than a reelection strategy that could end up pushing Obama’s remaining congressional majority – the Democrat-held Senate – over a cliff.

House Democrats fell into this trap in 2010: putting their careers on the line for Obama initiatives like “cap and trade” that had no chance of becoming law. One term later, Senate Democrats are poised to do the same for a stimulus and tax plan that has no chance of becoming law – but serves up a useful sound bite for a president “running against Congress.”

Another half-billion in stimulus, with new taxes on donations to charities and job-sustaining school repair bonds, may just reignite a firestorm in battleground states along the lines of what we saw in 2010.  But battle-hardened Hill Democrats are beginning to smell the methane in the mine.

When Ben Nelson cast the deciding vote for Obamacare in 2009, at least he could say his vote mattered in the grand scheme of things, as his action literally precipitated an inexorable government takeover of our health care system. But will he and his colleagues put their careers on the line this time just to be part of a fleeting message in the president’s reelection campaign?

Since President Obama began launching attacks against Congress in August, congressional Democrats have awakened to the fact that Obama views them as collateral damage in his pathway to reelection – in the same way that his ambitious agenda helped wipe out dozens of their House colleagues and chairmanships last year.

Despite a long record of rubberstamping Obama’s radical big government agenda, Tester has finally decided he doesn’t want to be a casualty of Obama’s reelection stimulus.

The question is whether Tester’s reality check will extend to other Democrats with their re-elections on the line.

Steven Law is president and CEO of American Crossroads, and former Deputy U.S. Secretary of Labor.


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