Democrats have said they are running against George W. Bush this fall, or at least his policies. But on Wednesday, they’ll announce that they’re really running against the Tea Party.
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine will argue at a morning news conference that “the positions espoused by the Tea Party [are] the governing platform of the Republican party,” according to a DNC official who relayed details of the rollout ahead of time to The Daily Caller.
Kaine’s tack is a swipe at House Republicans for not offering more specifics of how they would govern if they retake the House. But it’s also an attempt to force the GOP to own proposals by Rep. Paul Ryan — the Wisconsin Republican who is one of the few Republican lawmakers to propose a sweeping plan to tackle entitlements — combined with an effort to taint the GOP with some of the more radical positions taken by a few insurgent Republican candidates, notably Rand Paul and Sharron Angle, the GOP nominees for Senate in Kentucky and Nevada.
“The Tea Party is now the most potent force in Republican politics,” the DNC official said. “While GOP leaders are still promising to hold town halls and online forums to develop a contract of their own, it’s already clear what that agenda will be based on what self-professed Tea Party adherents have said they stand for and the Republican adoption of the Tea Party.”
The DNC will circulate a 10-point “Republican Tea Party Contract on America.” It includes a flier with the 10 points, a 30-second TV ad, and a website with supporting details that includes quotes from Republicans espousing each of the 10 points.
While the 10 points include less mainstream ideas – such as abolishing the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and repealing the 17th Amendment in order to replace direct election of senators with a system where state legislatures do so – the first few points on the platform are drawn from a plan formulated by Ryan.
The first five points are repeal of President Obama’s health bill and of the financial regulation bill passed just last week, as well as plans to “privatize Social Security or phase it out altogether,” “end Medicare as it presently exists,” and extension of the Bush tax cuts from 2001 and 2003 “for the wealthy and big oil.”
The criticisms of the GOP on Medicare and Social Security in particular come from Ryan’s “Road Map,” which is one of the few comprehensive plans put forward by any politician of either party to address how to make entitlement programs solvent before they run out of money.
A spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, Ohio Republican, said Democrats were “mocking the concerns of American families and small businesses” and “making matters worse.”
“The American people are fed up with the spending, the borrowing, the bailouts – and, above all, the arrogance – of Washington Democrats. Republicans are listening to them, and working with them on an agenda to help,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel.
House Republicans plan to unveil a full platform in September, they say, after they have finished soliciting ideas online through their “America Speaking Out” program.
Also included in the DNC-created list is the charge that Republicans will “protect those responsible for the oil spill and future environmental catastrophes.” It’s a point largely driven by Texas Republican Rep. Joe Barton’s apology to BP CEO Tony Hayward at a congressional hearing in June.
In essence, the Democrats have constructed a multi-headed beast to run against, with Bush, Barton, the Tea Party and Ryan comprising the composite creature’s main features. A DNC spokesman said that running against Bush and the Tea Party was not contradictory, even though much Tea Party sentiment began to build during the Bush presidency out of anger over high spending levels and the bailouts for Wall Street in 2008.