House Democrats’ new message on the economy: We told you so

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Democrats’ new message on America’s economic recovery is: We told you so, and we’re going to keep telling you so.

The economy is rebounding on nearly every front, even if the middle class still needs help, and it’s time to tell that story loudly, top Democrats say. That’s the key to reversing their midterm election setbacks, according to a host of House Democrats, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, all of whom came to Philadelphia this week for pep talks and strategy sessions.

“Democrats have to stand up, you’ve got to explain what we did,” Biden said to loud applause Friday. “Be proud of it… We can’t let the Republican Party rewrite history.”

Obama said much the same the night before. “The record shows we were right” the president said, referring to the 2009 stimulus, the bank and auto industry bailouts, and other strategies to pull out the great recession of 2008.

If the Democrats’ were so right, reporters asked, why did Republicans clobber them in the 2014 midterm elections? Poor messaging, top Democrats said, which must be remedied.

It might be wishful thinking, of course. Even Obama jokingly warned how hard it will be to overcome the Republicans’ 58-seat House majority in next year’s elections.

He said youthful, dark-haired Rep. Ben Lujan of New Mexico — newly named to head their 2016 House campaigns — will end up with “hair like Steve Israel.” Israel, a New York congressman who preceded Lujan, is fully gray.

Israel’s new role is to oversee messaging for House Democrats. He told reporters his colleagues will stick to their well-known priorities: a higher minimum wage, tax increases on the rich, advancing the president’s health care law and other measures largely associated with Obama.

This time, they’re counting on Obama’s rising popularity — and fading headlines on Ebola and terrorist beheadings — to help persuade voters they’d be better off with a Democratic-run Congress.

Israel acknowledged that Democrats talked a lot about the middle class in last fall’s elections. But world calamities distracted voters, he said, and Democrats failed to show that their economic policies would directly benefit working-class families.

Riffing on a campaign line from presidential candidate Bill Clinton in 1992, Israel said the Democrats’ new theme will be, “It’s MY economy, stupid.”

Republicans scoff at Democrats’ talk of better messaging. “Updating the packaging doesn’t help if the product is still lousy,” said Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Republicans say huge numbers of Americans dislike the president’s signature health care overhaul. Israel, by contrast, says only the “tea party base” strongly opposes it.

In a sense, both are right, which is why skillful framing and messaging are crucial to campaigns. Polls show that many Americans like key details of the health law, such as guaranteed insurance for people with pre-existing medical problems. The law’s overall image is less popular, however, especially when it’s portrayed as a big-government mandate.

Democrats groused about Obama’s poor approval ratings last November, and most in tight elections kept him away. Now that jobs, the stock market and the president’s popularity are rising, however, they’re more content to acknowledge their ties to him.

“He’s our messenger in chief,” Israel said.

Some friction is inevitable, however, especially on trade. Obama wants authority to negotiate trade deals with minimal congressional interference, while many House Democrats oppose new trade pacts.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

33 Replies to “House Democrats’ new message on the economy: We told you so”

  1. If the Democrats hadn’t been such COWARDS and tried to dissociate themselves from Obama and the ACA, perhaps they might have been able to hammer this message home before the midterm elections…

  2. The Democrats were clobbered because they campaigned as if their base where white, gun crazed, paranoid, RWNJ’S! Black voters, PBO’s, saw him being thrown under the bus by weak, pitiful, pathetic, no balls, white Democrats and stayed home!
    The Democrats should have kicked ads in November! You don’t see the GOP forgetting who their base is, do you? Every step they take catered to their paranoid, bigoted, gun loving, low iq’d, uneducated, white blue collar base.
    The Democrats deserved the whooping they received if they are going to use GOP strategy and ideology to win elections.

  3. Bullshit you didn’t tell the rubes anything.

    Steve Israel and Debbie Wassermann Shultz took seats we could have won off the table because they were friends with the baggers that could have been ours.

    I blame you Nancy Pelosi for keeping these idiots in the positions where they determine our fate.

  4. It always shocked me how much the democratic party allowed the message to be controlled by conservatives on the radio and Fox News. Had they simply controlled the outgoing message to the public, Obama would have possibly had two years with a senate and house “clear majority”.

    It took a true trouncing in November for the message to finally get out that the policies of the president have never been as described on Fox (which is too late to distribute your message). Maybe this is a blessing in disguise that forces the democrats to wake up for 2016.

  5. With all the gerrymandering (think Texas, Florida), voter suppression (think Texas, North Carolina and Florida) and the dems staying home it’s not a clobbering to me.
    The repubs keep using gays, guns, god, greed, gynocology and racism to scare their base since they have no accomplishments to speak of.
    The democrats don’t use scare tactics and should’ve touted the ACA, fixing much of the Bush mess and the booming economy as our accomplishments.

  6. Perhaps they learned the most important political lesson in recent times. If you don’t stand and defend your record people thing your opponent is right.

  7. I think the election was an “attention getter” but look at it this way. The GOP thinks it has a mandate and even a nano byte of that kind of thinking ignites the “crazy DNA” ie..tea party brand of legislating. January was just the first month.

  8. You can add Wisconsin to voter suppression. Walker passed the photo ID requirement, it was reversed by the courts, but on Election Day no one really knew if they had to show ID or not.

    Also, don’t forget True the Vote threatened to stalk any voter they felt had a warrant out for arrest. Starting months before the election, they told of their plans to stand near voters, especially in Milwaukee, to find out their names, AND THEY THREATENED TO FOLLOW THEM HOME.

  9. MaskMan, Please watch this video…The plan to take over with FOX Propaganda was planned way back & Citizen United Money is extrapolating the vicious hatefulness!
    The Brainwashing of My Dad:

    RightWing Hate Radio blanketing America with not a single Liberal Radio Station.
    And the vicious RightWing Hateful Websites spewing lies and mis-information has taken this country by storm.

    The pages filled with trash on YouTube regarding thing like Michelle Obama is really a MAN and PBO is absolutely Gay. It’s terrible what the Rightwing propaganda has done to our country!

    I’m seriously thinking…
    Maybe separating the country into TWO isn’t such a crazy idea…I’m tired of fighting for normal/harmonies nation.

  10. What the hell is the matter with US that we did not have people out to watch the watchers? They have no legal rights, that is STALKING and HARASSMENT, and we should have had someone in every poll to challenge THEM. We should be, until we get real reform, be driving people to get their ID, registering them, driving them to the polls, standing wait for them to protect them. If the RIGHT can do this – why can’t WE? I work. I do it anyway. NO excuses – everyone can stop this because when confronted, True the Vote people are cowards. Obnoxious but cowards.

  11. And here’s another thing they should be telling them. When the supreme court overturns Obamacare, 10 million will lose insurance. Insurance is worth 25% of your pay. That’s the equivalent of losing over 2 million jobs in the blink of an eye. Instant recession. Make sure the republicans own it.

  12. It’s the same way we find women who are into oppressing women. Sometimes it’s by imagining that if they dump on their own kind, they’ll get to eat with the cool kids (and sometimes they do…under the table, getting crusts, bones, and condescending pats on the head). With the less fortunate, it’s lobster-in-a-bucket syndrome: if they can’t get out themselves, they’ll damned well claw down anyone else who looks like they might. Of course, no dog ever becomes a person, and all the lobsters in the pail wind up boiled.

  13. No, that would be a BAD strategy. When you’re defending, you’re losing.

    Democrats need to learn to STOP with the niceties. STOP trying to appeal to the better angels in the American people. I’m sorry, but here’s a reality check: the American people are NOT nice. They’re NOT looking for kumbaya. They’re looking for a FIGHT.

    Democrats need to ATTACK. And there’s plenty to attack the Republicans for. Republicans never, EVER, tout their accomplishments (since they don’t have any). Instead, they immediately attack Democrats. And it works.

    You don’t go to a gun fight armed with a knife. You go in with a freakin’ bazooka and blow them off the face of the Earth.

    Take a good look at the topics on this site alone. The ones with the most controversy, the ones that get us riled up, produces the most comments. Post a nice article and you won’t get more than five comments tops.

    Elections have become war. It’s time we treat them as such IF we want to win.

  14. No, Andy, the Democrats shouldn’t have touted ACA. What they should’ve done was point out the fact, in no uncertain terms, that the Republicans want to take away their affordable health insurance; Republicans want to take away their SSI and Social Security; want to raise taxes on them, the poor and middle class in order to give more tax breaks to the wealthy. Put the Republicans on the defensive. That’s what Obama did – and he won both his elections with over 51% of the vote.

    The American people will line up behind you IF they see a strong leader, and in the eyes of an American, a strong leader doesn’t waste time defending. He/She is too busy attacking.

    This is a country of guns, war, violent video games, violent music, violent movies, instant gratification, HateRadio and “fire and brimstone” shouting preachers. Does anyone serious believe that the American people look up to politicians who speak with a gentle tone? Really?

  15. You don’t need a message, Democrats. Just do what the Republicans do…ATTACK. ATTACK. ATTACK.

    This isn’t your Leave it to Beaver era any longer. This is the Game of Thrones, American Horror Story, Walking Dead, American Sniper era.

    The quicker Democrats understand this fundamental truth about the American psyche, the more successful they’ll be against Republicans.

  16. What they propose is good but it’s just window dressing. The New Deal needs to be fully restored and made robust again. The income and wealth gap must be narrowed. Wall Street must be taken head on and tamed. Immigration reforms must be made and foreign policies more in line with global consensus and strategies. The Democrats must get aggressive about climate change, environmental policies and the transition to renewable non-carbon sources of energy.

    It’s time to summon some courage, clearly state the message, stay on that message and ORGANIZE the base.

  17. ILooked at this last election and thought of two books: the fifth Sacred Thing and the Handmaid’s Tale. The first was hopeful. The latter seems more realistic every day! That Joni Ernst seems more like Aunt Lydia every time she opens her mouth!

  18. Oh yes they should have! It would have gotten the permanently couched up off their behinds to vote! A lot of them are too distracted by reality shows to know about anything else. But, when I tell them that their newly acquired healthcare is in jeopardy because they didn’t bother to go vote, we hear a different tune!

  19. I don’t find it helpful to keep going on about that issue. It’s behind us and we need to move forward progressively. This has been an amazing President: he is rational and thoughtful and highly intelligent and his refusal to fall into that very kind of unhelpful recrimination is what has so befuddled and defeated the GOPers. It’s time for elected Democrats and civilian Democrats to focus on continuing to whip GOP tails and preserve the remarkable progress we have enjoyed under the leadership of President Obama.

  20. I think we Democrats should do as President Obama and keep our eye on the prize, keeping putting one foot in front of the other on a forward march to progress in the arenas that most matter to us. Yammering on about Pelosi and Reid is nonsensical and defeating. We don’t know what actually goes on in the highest level of politics but we can see clearly that by ignoring the rabble and babble the President has just steadily moved on in the direction of his choosing. He’s going to be one of history’s most acclaimed Presidents while the Republican Congresses during his administrations will be ridiculed and reviled. Eye on the prize, folks. Hang in there for the last two years with a positive frame of mind.

  21. To Churchlady: In Wisconsin a person is allowed to stand up to three feet away from a voter.

    On their website they mentioned that but dismissed it by saying it’s more important to find out if a felon or a person with an outstanding warrant was voting.
    In other words, it was more patriotic to turn in a person with an outstanding warrant than it was to uphold the three foot law.

    All of that is beside the point that this was a clear case of voter suppression.

    True the vote targeted Milwaukee’s black polling places.

    They soon took this down from their website, but the damage had been done and they got away with voter intimidation on a scale we have no way to measure.

  22. The way they act during elections…it’s as if they really don’t want to win power, and would happily hand it over to the Republicans.

    Of course, they have to appear as if they want the majorities in both chambers, but then we see these lackluster, weak, even confusing campaigns by Democrats on the national level – a far cry from campaigns in States like California and New York – and strong and forceful campaigns by Republicans who have NO qualms lying in each and every sentence they speak or print.

    It makes you wonder if both Parties aren’t in kahoots with one another to allow one Party or the other to win “this time”.

  23. The issue was participation. I don’t think it’s a matter of messaging. Smart people have caught on to the fact that these fuckers never do anything if it doesn’t profit them. Either side of the aisle. It’s all one big zero sum game that they are trying to get the middle class to FUND.

  24. Well I do know Steve Israel and Debbie Wasserman Shultz while head of the election committees took seats off the table because they were friends with the baggers so you may have a point

  25. Wasserman-Schultz is the Florida Republicans’ bestest friend.

    She has refused to support Democratic challengers to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, and Mario Diaz-Balart.

    They are her friends.

    Why, again, is Wasserman-Schultz touted as some sort of progressive, let alone, Democrat, when her actions prove otherwise?

  26. Thank you! I harbor a deep resentment directed at Pelosi and Reid for that very reason. If they had not taken war crimes ‘off the table’ we would be a more moral country today.

  27. Agreed, there is no reconciling with the liberal utopian, non reality based, thought process.

    Split it up before the next Civil War.

  28. 100% Democrats responsible for ObmaCare.

    Keep your doctor…save $2500…ALL BS

    $6-12K deductibles…all Democrat endorsed

    The Republicans should have had a plan in place to replace Obamacare while keeping some of the good parts.

    Look at England…the horrors of their failing healthcare system are coming to the USA to roost. The English are learning that eventually you run out of other peoples money.

  29. The U.S. hasn’t learned you can run out of other people’s lives, nor that epidemics don’t respect the rich.

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