Airport ad campaign targets freshman members of Congress

John Rossomando Contributor
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Signs asking freshman members of Congress to keep their promises to cut spending are among the first things newly elected reps will see at Reagan National Airport as they make their way to Washington to start the 112th Congress.

The messages in the baggage-claim area and in other locations around the airport written in bold red type say things like: “Congratulations on your election victory. Now cut some spending.”; “Dear new member of Congress, we know you just got here, but have you cut some spending yet?”; and “Remember your campaign promise to cut spending? We do. Keep your promise.”

The signs are part of a group called Public Notice’s “Bankrupting America” campaign, which organization founder Gretchen Hamel, a former GOP Hill staffer, told The Daily Caller aims to educate Americans about the causes of the economic downturn and the threat posed by excessive spending.

“Never before has government spending been such a hot topic in an election year, and so many of these candidates campaigned on fiscally sound principles,” Hamels said. “We want them to know that just because they have now been elected that can’t abandon those things they campaigned on, and we are going to be watching and so is the American public.”

A Zogby poll following the release of the debt commission chairmen’s draft proposal in November found 72 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of independents favored cutting spending further than the proposal recommended, while only 23 percent of Democrats favored doing so.

“The Republicans are just as much responsible for our current situation as the Democrats are, and it’s not one-sided at all,” Hamels said. “Washington seems to not realize the recession has happened … and it can’t have this Kim Kardashian spending philosophy where they just spend and spend and spend.”

Hamels said she believes most Americans want the government to live within its means just as they are forced to do amid the current economic downturn.

The Public Notice hopes to continue its campaign following the start of the new Congress and possibly expand it if donations allow.

Veteran conservative activists view these signs as a step in the right direction.

“These signs are good reminders that when people run for office by making big promises and setting high goals, they will be held to high expectations,” Let Freedom Ring President Colin Hanna said.  “Frankly, I think that’s just the way one ought to run for office, but it does require harder work than merely taking a seat on the back bench.”

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, told TheDC that Hamels’ group should do everything it can to keep up the pressure on the new members of Congress so the GOP does not revert to the unrestrained spending patterns of the Bush-era.

“The signs are a great idea because they remind them of the people back at home after they leave their meetings in Congress,” Norquist said. “People want them to spend less and to tax less.”

Popular pressure against increased spending during the 2009 August recess forced Republicans to back away from cutting deals with Democrats and supporting “a light form of socialism,” according to Norquist.

“The people back home are different puddle of fish than those people in D.C.,” Norquist said. “These signs are critically necessary, and it would be helpful if they were replicated.”