- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 18, 2021

The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is launching a six-figure advertising campaign to pressure 13 moderate House Democrats into opposing President Biden’s multitrillion-dollar spending bills.

Tim Phillips, the president of AFP, said the campaign was needed to educate voters about how Democrats had linked the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to their $3.5 trillion party-line social welfare legislation. Democratic leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, have explicitly pledged not to move one without the other.

“The $4.7 trillion Biden-Sanders ‘infrastructure’ spending spree is a blueprint for economic devastation,” said Mr. Phillips, referring to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernard Sanders. “These proposals are full of old, borrowed, and partisan ideas we know won’t work but will chill the entrepreneurial spirit we’ve relied on for generations to make progress toward the future.”

AFP’s pressure campaign will play out through direct mail and radio. At the moment, 13 moderate House Democrats from key battleground districts are being targeted, but that number is likely to grow, according to AFP.

Lawmakers will face ads and mailers highlighting the economic and health care consequences of the spending bills.

The launch days before House Democrats are set to return to Washington and vote on advancing both the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill and the $3.5 trillion social welfare legislation. AFP hopes that by mobilizing now they can prevent lawmakers from rushing forward without proper input from constituents.

Democrats have dubbed the bigger social spending bill as “human infrastructure” in hopes of making it an easier sell to voters. Crafted by Mr. Sanders, the legislation amounts to a wish list of liberal priorities.

“Our political task is not just to improve life for working families in terms of decent income, health care, education, etc.,” said Mr. Sanders, a democratic socialist from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats. “It is to change the political paradigm so that people demand their full rights as human beings, and not just scraps from the table.”

Included among its provisions are new climate change regulations, amnesty for undocumented immigrants, free community college, and expanded health care — all paid for by a repeal of the Trump-era tax cuts.

“The historic tax increases, expensive yet ineffective energy mandates, trillions in deficit spending, and government takeover of health care is only the beginning,” Mr. Phillips said. “Pushing the federal government ever closer to the middle of our everyday lives will leave everyone worse off and ultimately undermine people’s ability to innovate from the bottom up.”

Since the $3.5 trillion package is unlikely to garner Republican support, Democrats plan to pass it along party lines via budget reconciliation. The process allows some spending measures to avoid the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster threshold and pass with a simple majority of 51 votes.

Likewise, in the face of solid GOP opposition, House Democrats can have no more than three defectors to pass the legislation.

While some moderate Democrats have expressed skepticism about the size and scope of the bill, groups such as AFP hope that by engaging voters they can cause its defeat.

• Haris Alic can be reached at halic@washingtontimes.com.

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