- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

House Republicans, leery of being labeled naysayers after rejecting the $819 billion economic rescue bill, are launching a district-by-district message campaign to promote their own stimulus bill and highlight the huge taxpayer debt amassed by the Democrats’ spending plan.

The data, including a calculation of the debt load that the House-passed plan would heap on each congressional district, is being disseminated by the Republican National Campaign Committee (NRCC) through blogs, talk radio and local media in the districts of vulnerable Democrats.

“We plan to make the case on a micro level that targeted tax relief and eliminating wasteful spending in any stimulus bill is the right way forward for America,” said Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican.

They also are arming rank-and-file Republicans with the numbers.

Not a single Republican voted for the House stimulus bill when it passed Wednesday, though 11 Democrats broke ranks to oppose the spending and tax-cut package. The package is expected to be cleared in the Senate and be signed into law by President Obama.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California used the Democrats’ bully pulpit of power in the White House and Congress to advocate the stimulus bill and downplay the partisan split.

“I believe that this was a good bill for education, for renewable energy, for making us energy independent, for investments in innovation to keep us competitive in the world economy, for cutting taxes, for creating good-paying jobs in the near term and … to stabilize the economy over the longer term,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “[Republicans] disagreed. They didn’t vote for it.”

The Democrat-allied Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery aired TV ads in key states to encourage Republican support of the stimulus. The 30-second spots running in Alaska, Iowa, Maine and New Hampshire say Republican senators have a choice to “support the president’s plan or the failed policies of the past.”

The ad overlays footage of Mr. Obama’s recent speeches calling for urgent action on the economy. It also shows dramatic images of a shuttered factory coming back to life and people returning to work, according to the campaign, which includes labor unions, MoveOn.org and Americans United for Change.

Mr. Obama, who courted House Republicans in high-profile meetings, has not addressed the overwhelming Republican opposition. His administration continued Thursday to push for crossover support in the Senate.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the administration will continue to reach out to Republicans and that the ways of Washington would not be changed in a few days.

But the slightly different Senate package faces stiff opposition from Republicans, who say only about $20 billion of the bill goes to legitimate, job-creating tax cuts. Unified opposition by Republicans could leave them politically vulnerable at the midterm elections in two years if the package is viewed as aiding recovery.

“We have ideas that will really create jobs and help people and help get the economy moving again,” said Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican. “We’ve been rejected in our attempts to get those considered. And if there is not a change in attitude as this legislation moves forward, unfortunately, it’s the American people that are going to suffer from the Democrats’ partisanship on this important issue.”

Republicans plan to target vulnerable Democrats who support the legislation, including Rep. Michael Arcuri, who won re-election in his conservative upstate New York district by a thin two-point margin. The numbers being circulated by Republicans show that Mr. Arcuri’s district, which has a population of about 650,000 and includes the towns of Utica and Auburn, would shoulder nearly $1.8 billion in taxpayer debt from the House-passed stimulus package.

The Republican plan, which would reduce most income tax rates by 5 percent and cut taxes on small businesses by 20 percent, would benefit about 300,000 people and 1.9 million businesses in the district, according to estimates compiled by the NRCC.

The committee also hit freshman Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, Ohio Democrat, saying she broke a campaign promise to support fiscal responsibility when she voted for a stimulus plan that would pile $1.8 billion of debt onto her constituents.

“While her constituents are forced to make sacrifices during these tough economic times, it’s hard for Mary Jo Kilroy to justify taking a pass on saving billions of their hard-earned tax dollars in favor of a trillion-dollar spending bill,” NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain said in a press release. “It clearly did not take long for Democrats in Washington to return to the politics of ‘business as usual.’”

The NRCC has generated the same numbers for every congressional district.

The figures are derived from multiplying the estimated per-person cost of the stimulus - $2,700 - by the number of people in each district. The tax cut numbers were based on data by the Internal Revenue Service and Small Business Administration, according to the NRCC.

“By standing united, we offered hope to struggling families and small businesses across America looking to Washington for real solutions to the challenges they face,” House Minority Leader John A. Boehner of Ohio said in a memo Thursday to fellow Republican members. “We also made good on our pledge that Republicans will not simply be the party of opposition, but the party of better solutions.”