- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

Republicans have more to fear from doing too little than from trying to pass too much legislation in the 108th Congress, says a public opinion survey circulated among party members on Capitol Hill.
On such issues as health care, education and the environment, voters say they think Republicans are more likely to do too little than too much, according to the poll by Andres McKenna Research.
Of the respondents, 11 percent said they think Republicans will do too much, 26 percent said they will do too little and 51 percent said they expect that "Democrats and the media will accuse the Republicans of doing too much."
The nationwide poll of 600 voters in the 2002 election had a four percentage point margin of error.
What the polls results mean, said Michael McKenna, who conducted the poll, is that "Democrats may have already oversold and compromised one of their messages that Republicans can't be trusted with the keys to the car."
"Despite the constant drumbeat from the media and the Democrats about the potential for 'Republicans Gone Wild,' the real risk the Republicans in Congress face is underreaching," he said. "While people want Congress to focus on real issues, they want them to do something of significance."
Republicans said they got that message from the 2002 elections.
"One of the clearest signals we got at the polls last year was that the American people wanted the party that outlined an agenda and then followed through with solutions," said Rep. Deborah Pryce of Ohio, the new chairman of the House Republican Conference.
"There's no danger in overreaching. We have to perform, and we will," she said. "We have to be aggressive, and we have to be very mindful that our window of opportunity is not a very long one in this Congress because of election-year politics."
Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, said the number of Senate Democrats running for president, at the moment three, shrinks the window of time for action.
"I think Democrats moved that date up by six months," he said.
Republicans say that after they have finished the 2003 omnibus spending bill, which passed the Senate last week and next will go to a House-Senate conference, they will move on to their priorities: passing a budget for fiscal year 2004, passing an economic-growth package as close to the president's as possible and passing a bill on prescription-drug coverage for seniors.
"We've got a 51-49 majority. I don't think you're going to see us stick our neck out, but I do think you'll see a robust effort to get these things through," Mr. Kyl said.
The survey also suggested that Social Security is no longer the go-to issue it used to be for Democrats.
Of those surveyed, 36 percent trusted Republicans to handle Social Security properly near to the 40 percent who said they believed Democrats were better for the job.
In addition, 11 percent of those surveyed said the status quo was acceptable on Social Security, and 61 percent said the system needed "pretty substantial reform" or to be "totally overhauled."
Still, that may not be a green light for Republicans to be aggressive on the issue. It ranked fifth on the list of priorities for the 108th Congress, well behind the top four priorities of economic stimulus, education, national defense and prescription-drug coverage.


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