House Republicans Talk About Job Creation
Sep. 11, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Memo to House Republicans when talking to voters this fall: ``It is not possible for you to talk about jobs too much.''
That's the advice from Rep. Deborah Pryce, R-Ohio, writing to members of the GOP rank-and-file just back from their summer break.
``I ask that you please be attentive to driving a jobs message more than ever before,'' added Pryce, fourth-ranking in the GOP leadership as head of the Republican Conference. ``I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to communicate that job creation is our top priority.''
The economy has lost more than 3 million jobs since President Bush took office, and unemployment stands at 6.1 percent. And despite signs of a strong economy in recent weeks, the Labor Department reported that new claims for unemployment insurance rose last week to a two-month high of 422,000.
The memo told Republicans they face a ``difficult communications environment,'' given public concerns about the economy and post-war Iraq, as well as the presence of nine Democratic presidential contenders consistently attacking President Bush.
A few polling details underscore the point.
In a survey taken last week by Republican pollster David Winston, 37 percent of those questioned said the country was moving in the right direction, and 51 percent said it was on the wrong track. Moreover, Democrats are doing a better job of communicating with the country than before.
``Of those who heard a message from House Democrats, 44 percent were more favorable to Democrats, and 38 percent were less favorable,'' Pryce wrote, adding that was the first time this year the Democratic message ``received a positive reaction.''
At the same time, the memo said Republicans continue to have a better ``brand image'' than Democrats, 50 favorable to 39 percent unfavorable for the GOP; 46 favorable to 43 percent favorable for the Democrats.
Apart from jobs-related issues, Republicans were urged to stress commitment to Medicare prescription drug legislation, ``stand four-square behind our commander in chief in producing the necessary resources for our troops in Iraq,'' and mention support for education.
Kori Bernards, spokeswoman at the House Democratic campaign committee, said the memo ``doesn't tell House Democrats anything they don't know. We've known for a long time that House Republicans were extreme and out of touch with ordinary Americans and this confirms it.''
After letting the issue idle for months, congressional Republicans are readying a final push to pass legislation banning a procedure that critics call partial birth abortion.
The Senate passed its bill in March, the House in June, and negotiators plan to sit down to iron out the difference soon after the Senate clears a few parliamentary hurdles next week.
By all accounts, it will be a short negotiation, since the two measures are identical when it comes to the limited abortion ban itself.
The only difference between the two measures is a Senate-passed endorsement of the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling that declared women have the right to an abortion. Republicans plan to omit that provision from the final compromise.
That would set the stage for final votes in the House and Senate. Passage is not in doubt, and President Bush has repeatedly urged Congress to send him the legislation so he can sign it.
His signature would, in turn, lead to the next act in a long-running drama. Abortion rights supporters are ready to file suit in court attacking the measure as unconstitutional, and vow the issue will finally be settled by the Supreme Court.
Under the bill, partial birth abortion is defined as a procedure in which the fetus is killed after the entire fetal head is outside the body of the mother or, in the case of breech presentation, ``any part of the fetal trunk past the navel is outside the body of the mother.''
In one form or another, the issue has been before Congress since 1995. President Clinton twice vetoed different forms of the measure.
Opponents of the measure, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., intend to stage a symbolic last stand in the Senate before allowing final negotiations to continue. Eight hours have been set aside for debate on procedural steps that must occur _ and usually consume only minutes. In addition, Boxer has said she wants a vote on the issue of support for the 1973 abortion rights ruling.
Disabled veterans eager to get full retirement benefits are lining up support from both sides of the political aisle.
House Republicans met recently with administration officials and leaders of veterans groups to discuss the issue _ in which vets receiving disability benefits have their government retirement checks reduced _ and now 113 House Democrats are weighing in, as well.
``It is time to lift this unfair tax on disabled veterans and provide full compensation to all eligible military retirees,'' said the letter, written by Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio.
The Senate, in passing a defense bill earlier this year, voted to give disabled veterans their full retirement benefits. The House-passed version of the same bill does not mention the issue.
House GOP leaders and the administration have been searching for a less costly change in the system, since giving veterans their entire request would cost $58 billion over a decade.
Compromise proposals under review include phasing in the increased benefits or limiting those eligible for full retirement checks to vets wounded in combat.