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Nov. 12, 2011, 4:08 p.m.

Na­tion­al Journ­al’s Gar­rett writes, “Con­gres­sion­al Demo­crats can’t cam­paign on health care, and they can’t vote on middle-class tax cuts.” That “il­lus­trates the polit­ic­al strait­jack­et” the Dem ma­jor­ity wears as it bolts from Wash­ing­ton in a “fe­ver­ish at­tempt to stave off midterm re­pu­di­ation.” Some in the party “wanted to fight” GOP­ers over taxes, an ar­gu­ment ad­voc­ated by one of its chief ad­visers, poll­ster Stan­ley Green­berg. But House Speak­er Nancy Pelosi “re­fused to lose a high-stakes vote on eco­nom­ic policy” — with nearly 40 Dems in her caucus want­ing to vote with GOP — “even though they meant hanging cent­rist Dems who needed the vote out to dry.

Dems, in the end, “de­cided it was bet­ter to muddle than fight.” Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA): “There was a feel­ing, ‘Take an­oth­er tough vote? For what?’. The lead­er­ship is in­ter­ested and I’m in­ter­ested in pre­serving the ma­jor­ity on Novem­ber 13” (10/2 is­sue).

Pelosi, on how to move for­ward on taxes if more GOP­ers are in the House: “We in­tend to have a ma­jor­ity in the Con­gress after Novem­ber. But the fact is if they want to go in­to oth­er is­sues re­lated to the tax code, we’re all for put­ting everything on the table, talk­ing about sim­pli­fic­a­tion, talk­ing about fair­ness, or per­haps lower­ing the cor­por­ate rate if we close loop­holes, and some of the things that we have done have very good for small busi­nesses.”

Pelosi, on tax com­prom­ise: “Our po­s­i­tion is clear. Every­body gets a tax cut. If you make over $250,000 a year, you do not get an ex­tra tax cut, and most of that tax cut, by the way, at the high end, goes to people mak­ing — 80 per­cent of it goes to people mak­ing over a mil­lion dol­lars a year as joint filers. We feel very clear about our po­s­i­tion” (“News­Hour,” PBS, 9/30).

Time Run­ning Out

Na­tion­al Journ­al’s Cook writes, “if a new NBC News/Wall Street Journ­al poll is cor­rect, the tide for the GOP “may have ebbed a bit.” The in­ter­est­ing res­ult is that the GOP’s likely voter edge dropped from 9 points to 3 points since 8/10” (10/1.

ABC News’ Wal­ter writes, “This tight­en­ing of the gen­er­ic bal­lot does not mean that Demo­crats are out of the woods or that Re­pub­lic­ans are less likely to gain con­trol of the House.” Wave elec­tions are “like tor­nadoes.” There are some places where the winds will level everything in its path, but “there will in­ev­it­ably be those can­did­ates who sur­vive” (9/30).

You Call That Bi-Par­tis­an?

Dems have “made clear” what they will be talk­ing about in the clos­ing six weeks of this midterm elec­tion cycle: Ar­guing GOP­ers will ad­vance an agenda they say “will re­vive the failed eco­nom­ic policies of” George W. Bush. DSCC Chair Robert Men­en­dez (D-NJ): “That is the choice they will have to make in this elec­tion — wheth­er they want to go back to the very es­sence of those who cre­ated the eco­nom­ic anxi­ety and troubles they are in, or wheth­er they want to con­tin­ue to move to the fu­ture” (Dav­is, Con­gress­Daily, 10/1).

Bill Clin­ton, on the midterms: “And it’s al­most im­possible with only a month to go — and they’ve been do­ing it for maybe a month — to fill up the tank as much and — but it’s worth re­mind­ing Amer­ic­ans that every elec­tion is a choice. If you have to run against the ideal, if it’s a ref­er­en­dum, every one of us will get beat. Nobody’d get elec­ted. We’d have nobody in of­fice be­cause there’s no such thing as the per­fect pub­lic ser­vant. Every — the choices you make in polit­ics are like the choices you make in life. You look at the facts as best you can and you make the best avail­able choice” (“Hard­ball,” MS­N­BC, 9/30).

“Hours after ad­journ­ing a week early and punt­ing on tax cuts and ap­pro­pri­ations bills,” House Dem lead­ers “offered a broad de­fense of their agenda, fram­ing their ac­com­plish­ments as his­tor­ic while cast­ing” GOP­ers as “ob­struc­tion­ists not worthy of the pub­lic trust.”

“In some of their sharpest, and most co­ordin­ated, at­tacks thus far against” GOP­ers, Dems “dir­ectly took on” House Min. Lead­er John Boehner. House Speak­er Nancy Pelosi, on Boehner’s speech about Con­gres­sion­al re­form: “It’s no won­der that Mr. Boehner wants to talk about pro­cess. They have no sub­stant­ive is­sues to take to the Amer­ic­an people, they want to talk about pro­cess, we can talk to them about that, but we’d rather be talk­ing about pro­gress than pro­cess.”

Dems “took it a step fur­ther.” Rep. George Miller (D-CA), who worked with Boehner on “No Child Left Be­hind,” in a press re­lease: “The fact is, the only bi-par­tis­an mo­ment Rep. Boehner can point to is work­ing with me nine years ago on a bill Pres­id­ent Bush had made a pri­or­ity. Everything since has been par­tis­an op­pos­i­tion to is­sues of great im­port­ance to Amer­ica’s middle class” (Sher­man, Politico, 9/30).

Sur­viv­al Of The Fit­test

Dem lead­ers “are de­cid­ing where to spend pre­cious re­sources as they de­bate which Sen­ate can­did­ates can sur­vive” the GOP “on­slaught.”

Eight states — CO, IL, KY, MO, NV, PA, WV and WI — “are emer­ging as the battle­grounds that will de­cide” who con­trols the Sen­ate. The DSCC and the NR­SC agree CO, IL and NV “will be among the closest” races (Bolton, The Hill, 10/1).

Hit­ting The Streets

House Dem lead­ers 9/30 “de­fen­ded their move to cut their le­gis­lat­ive ses­sion short.” Pelosi: “Our mem­bers left [Wed.] even­ing in a spir­it of op­tim­ism. … The job is not just what is hap­pen­ing in Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”

DCCC chair Chris Van Hol­len, on the lead­er­ship meet­ing with Obama: “He’s go­ing to be cris­scross­ing the coun­try, fram­ing the choice for voters very clearly: con­tinu­ing the pro­gress we’ve made, or go­ing back to failed policies” (Ber­man, The Hill, 9/30).

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