Some Vacation - Dem, GOP Summer Strategies Make for busy August

The GOP Summer Strategy is beginning to take shape.

The GOP Summer Strategy is beginning to take shape. NRCC Chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) released a memo Friday instructing House Republicans to keep up a robust offensive over the summer break.

The 22 page document calls on members to highlight failing economic indicators. Sessions contends that lagging GDP and low employment numbers may force the White House’s “Recovery Summer” to soon be renamed the “Run for Cover Summer.” Congressional Republicans excel at wordplay.

Congressional Republicans can be expected to engage their districts. Democrats, for the most part, are not willing to submit to unscripted, town hall-style interactions with their constituents. Understandably, most will seek to avoid last year’s “summer of discontent.”

Only a handful of the 225 House majority Democrats will hold genuine town halls, many are shifting their district strategy to invitation-only events and “telephone town halls.”

The DCCC has not released an official summer strategy, but Democratic aides close to the process say Democrats will focus on an initiative to reinvigorate domestic manufacturing called “Make it in America,” and tout the success of entitlement programs like Social Security, which enjoys its 75th birthday this year.

At $738 billion, the FY11 budget gives the entitlement program funding on par with national defense. Sharron Angle, the GOP candidate for Senate in Nevada, has received a grueling level of attention from Democratic campaign officials nationwide for what they say is her irresponsible position on the program. In the past, Angle has advocated for the elimination of Social Security and Medicare and, more recently, for their partial privatization. Democrats consider Republican’s track record of failed attempts to reform Social Security fertile ground and will seek to exploit their vulnerability on the issue.

Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), has urged her members to tout their “portfolio of accomplishments.” Last week’s strategy, to link the GOP to the Bush Administration and preempt the “referendum election” (a judgment on the first two years of the Obama Administration), has given way to this week’s strategy, linking the GOP to the Tea Party movement and its real or imagined agenda. 

Democrats will attempt to corner Republicans into defending their party’s record and define their policy proscriptions. American’s have such a low opinion of Congressional Republicans that forcing them to elaborate on how they would govern in the majority may reduce public support enough to blunt the anti-incumbent sentiment against Democrats.

Republicans have promised to release their “plan” in September, which many believe will borrow in large part from Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) “Road Map for America’s Future.” Shifting the burden of proof, as it were, into the Republican’s court may prove too cleaver by half. Judging from Sessions memo, giving Republicans the microphone is exactly what the NRCC leadership wants.

Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at

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