Retreating lawmakers leave long ‘to do’ list

Democrats met most of goals

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Democratic leaders made that clear at a Capitol news conference Thursday, where they quickly ran through their legislative achievements, arguing that their agenda and stimulus program helped keep a bad economy from getting worse.

Standing next to television screens that read, “Fighting for the Middle Class,” top House Democrats ticked off their legislative accomplishments and outlined plans to protect Social Security and Medicare, cut taxes for the middle class and renew the country’s manufacturing base.

“Our members left last evening in a spirit of optimism, very pleased about taking the message of fighting for the middle class,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, told reporters. “These are the priorities we have as we [go] into the election.”

Less than 24 hours earlier, Senate Democrats adjourned after passing a last-minute stopgap bill to keep the government running from Thursday through Dec. 3. But they punted on the burning issue of whether to force a vote on a bill to extend Bush-era tax cuts for the middle class, but not for wealthier Americans.

As the night came to a close, freshman Sen. Al Franken, a former “Saturday Night Live” comic whose Minnesota seat is not up for re-election on Nov. 3, was one of the few jovial Democrats in the chamber.

Republicans, meanwhile, were all smiles - perhaps in anticipation of what many polls suggest will hand the GOP control of the House and perhaps the Senate.

“It is striking here as we end the session that our good friends on the other side have been told by their pollsters that there’s almost nothing they can talk about,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

“The public didn’t like the stimulus. The public didn’t like the health care bill. The public wasn’t sure what the Wall Street bill was about. And the public is deeply concerned that we are spending too much, borrowing too much and engaging in too [many] Washington takeovers.”

The Kentucky Republican later added, “We look forward to the fall election.”

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