Pelosi urges Dems to stick to economic script

Pelosi urges Dems to stick to economic script
© Greg Nash

House Democratic leaders are sticking to their script as the midterm elections inch closer, largely disregarding the turmoil surrounding President TrumpDonald John TrumpThorny part of obstruction of justice is proving intent, that's a job for Congress Obama condemns attacks in Sri Lanka as 'an attack on humanity' Schiff rips Conway's 'display of alternative facts' on Russian election interference MORE to focus instead on the economic consequences of the Republicans’ legislative agenda.

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In a Dear Colleague letter sent to Democrats on Monday, House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiSenate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller End of Mueller shifts focus to existing probes Democrats renew attacks on Trump attorney general MORE (D-Calif.) urged her troops to highlight new funding hikes in areas like health care, veterans services and education — adopted as part of the recently passed 2018 spending package — while hitting Republicans over tax reform and a proposed balanced budget amendment, which Democrats consider a threat to domestic programs like Medicare and Social Security.

“With a strong first quarter behind us, we must now step up our efforts to protect Americans from the ongoing assault by the Trump Administration and Republican Congress on hard-working families,” Pelosi wrote.

The strategy builds on the Democrats’ “Better Deal” agenda, launched over the summer, which is designed to speak to the economic insecurities of middle class voters in lieu of spotlighting the turbulence within Trump’s White House, including the ongoing investigation into Moscow’s 2016 election meddling and potential collusion with the Trump campaign.

While Trump has been a boon to the Democrats’ recruiting efforts this cycle, party leaders have taken pains to avoid making the election a referendum on the divisive president — a strategy that backfired in 2016.

Pelosi, for instance, has refused to back the small but growing impeachment push from some liberals in her caucus, and she’s declined to weigh in on the allegations of Trump’s affair with a porn star. Instead, she’s sought to shift the discussion to the Republicans’ tax overhaul, efforts to undo ObamaCare and the ongoing administrative push to dismantle regulations designed to protect consumers and the environment. Monday’s letter, arriving as Congress returns to Washington after a long spring recess, largely sticks with those themes.

“The Republican tax scam increases the debt by $1.5 [trillion] to $2 trillion dollars. And yet they are bringing their so-called balanced budget amendment to a vote this week,” Pelosi wrote. “But their real goal is to end Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security as we know it. 

“We cannot let this happen.”

Pelosi also called for Democrats to oppose the GOP’s farm bill, expected to be unveiled this week, citing steep cuts to food stamps. And she’s urging her members to fight any Republican efforts to rescind certain spending hikes contained in the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill — rescissions under discussion by Trump and House GOP leaders. Pelosi said those “back-room talks” would undo the bipartisan compromise that took months to achieve.

In a notable break from her economic message, Pelosi amplified her earlier call for the resignation of Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Flint residents can sue EPA over water crisis | Environmentalists see victory with Green New Deal blitz | March global temperatures were second hottest on record | EPA told to make final decision on controversial pesticide Court orders EPA to make final decision on banning controversial pesticide Former EPA chief Scott Pruitt registers as lobbyist in Indiana MORE, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who’s under fire for lavish travel arrangements and allegations that he benefited from a sweetheart rental agreement on a Washington condo owned by the wife of an energy lobbyist.  

“[H]e is merely the latest example of the staggering ethical blindness emblematic of this Administration that favors special interests and corporations at the expense of America’s children and the air they breathe and water they drink,” Pelosi wrote. 

She’s urging Democrats to hold the Republicans’ feet to the fire when it comes to congressional oversight of the executive branch.