NRCC Tries To Paint Blue Dog Davis As A Pelosi Minion

October 28, 2010 6:23 pm ET

Attacking Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN) in a new ad, the National Republican Congressional Committee attempts to illustrate that Davis's priorities have changed since he first made a run for Congress in 1983. Yet the NRCC's criticisms don't hold water. The "wasteful stimulus" boosted the economy and created millions of American jobs. And Davis's vote in favor of the budget — which the NRCC claims "called for tax increases on working people" — doesn't make much sense when you realize that current tax rates are actually at near-historical lows. Furthermore, the fact that Davis broke with the Democrats to vote against initiatives like health care reform and clean energy legislation flies in the face of the ad's suggestion that Davis votes on Pelosi's command.

National Republican Congressional Committee: "Lincoln Davis, Then And Now"

1983. The World's Fair had just ended, and a young man named Lincoln Davis made his first run for Congress. That was then, but now Lincoln Davis votes with Nancy Pelosi 94 percent of the time. Obama's wasteful stimulus? Yes. And, Pelosi's budget that called for tax increases on working people. Lincoln Davis has changed. To stop Pelosi, we've got to replace Lincoln Davis. The National Republican Congressional Committee is responsible for the content of this advertising.

The Recovery Act Created Millions Of Jobs And Boosted The Economy

The Economy Shed Almost 8 Million Jobs Under Republican Policies Before The Recovery Act Could Affect The Economy. According to economist Robert J. Shapiro:

From December 2007 to July 2009 - the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy - private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans' watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 - 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs. [, 8/10/10, emphasis added]

Based on Shapiro's research, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein created the following chart showing net job losses before and after the Recovery Act was enacted:


[Washington Post8/12/10]

CBO: The Recovery Act Created Jobs, Lowered Unemployment, And Boosted GDP. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, through the second quarter of 2010, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:

  • Raised the level of real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product (GDP) by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent,
  • Lowered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points,
  • Increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million, and
  • Increased the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) jobs by 2.0 million to 4.8 million compared with what those amounts would have been otherwise.

[CBO, 8/24/10]

Reuters: The Recovery Act May Have "Prevented The Sluggish Economy From Contracting" Between April And June. According to Reuters

The massive U.S. stimulus package put millions of people to work and boosted national output by hundreds of billions of dollars in the second quarter, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said on Tuesday.

CBO's latest estimate indicates that the stimulus effort, which remains a political hot potato ahead of the November congressional elections, may have prevented the sluggish U.S. economy from contracting between April and June.

CBO said President Barack Obama's stimulus boosted real GDP in the quarter by between 1.7 percent and 4.5 percent, adding at least $200 billion in economic activity. [Reuters via ABC News, 8/24/10]

Job Statistics Trend Shows Recovery Act Is Working. Below is a graph prepared by the Speaker's office showing net private sector job gains or losses per month since December 2007.

Private Sector Employment

[Bureau of Labor Statistics via The Gavel, 10/8/10]

Princeton, Moody's Economists Say "Highly Effective" Government Response To Crisis Saved 8.5 Million Jobs. According to the New York Times: "Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government's sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression. Now, two leading economists wielding complex quantitative models say that assertion can be empirically proved. In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration's fiscal stimulus program, the nation's gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year. In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation. The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years. 'While the effectiveness of any individual element certainly can be debated, there is little doubt that in total, the policy response was highly effective,' they write." [New York Times7/27/10, emphasis added]

Historically, Taxes Are Near Their Lowest

GOP Rep. McHenry: "Marginal Tax Rates Are The Lowest They've Been In Generations, And All We Can Talk About Is Tax Cuts." As reported by Time Magazine, North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry said: "Marginal tax rates are the lowest they've been in generations, and all we can talk about is tax cuts... The people's desires have changed, but we're still stuck in our old issue set." [Time Magazine, 5/7/09]

Top Tax Brackets Over Time

Tax Rates

35% In 2010: Currently, The Highest Tax Rate Is 35%. According to The Tax Foundation, the 2010 tax rate for couples making over $373,650 annually is 35%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 9/20/10]

  • 39.1% In 2001: The Highest Tax Rate Was 39.1% In 2001. According to The Tax Foundation, the 2001 tax rate for couples making over $297,350 annually was 39.1%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 4/14/09]
  • 50% In 1986: Highest Tax Rate Was 50% In 1986. According to The Tax Foundation, the 1986 tax rate for couples making over $175,250 annually was 50%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 4/14/09]
  • 70% In 1981: The Highest Tax Rate Was 70% In 1981. According to The Tax Foundation, the 1981 tax rate for couples making over $215,400 annually was 70%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 4/14/09]
  • 77% In 1964: The Highest Tax Rate Was 77% In 1964. According to The Tax Foundation, the 1964 tax rate for couples making over $400,000 annually was 77%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 4/14/09]
  • 91% In 1963: The Highest Tax Rate Was 91% In 1963.  According to The Tax Foundation, the 1961 tax rate for couples making over $400,000 annually was 91%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 4/14/09]

The Last President To Serve While The Highest Tax Bracket Below 35% Was Herbert Hoover.  Herbert Hoover was the last president to serve while the nation's highest tax rate was below the 2009 rate, 35%. In 1931, during his tenure, those earning over $100,000 were taxed at 25%. [Tax Foundation, accessed 4/14/08]

Davis Broke With Democrats On Key Votes

Davis Voted Against Major Democratic Initiatives Like Health Care Reform and Clean Energy Legislation. From "In the House, Davis has largely stuck to the center. A Blue Dog, he opposed some of Congress' 2008 and 2009 marquee legislation, including the Wall Street bailout, cap-and-trade legislation and health-care reform." [, accessed 10/28/10]

High Voting Percentages Are Relatively Meaningless Because They Reflect Mundane Votes. From The Hill:

The explanation for the elevated voting percentages is simple: While hotly-disputed legislation on healthcare, climate change and government spending command the public's attention, the vast majority of congressional votes occur on more mundane and non-controversial items, like the naming of post offices or designating weeks or months to cancer awareness and other causes.

In the database of votes that campaigns rely on for attack ads, however, a vote to designate June 30th as National ESIGN Day or to congratulate the South Carolina Gamecocks for winning the College World Series counts the same as votes to overhaul the nation's healthcare and energy industries.

[The Hill, 10/13/10]

Even Reps. Boehner, Pence, Cantor, Sessions and Bachmann Usually Vote With Speaker Pelosi. From The Hill:

Boehner has voted with the Democratic leadership 52 percent of the time in 2010. So has Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.), chairman of the Republican conference and former head of the conservative Republican Study Committee.

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House Republican whip, and Rep. Pete Sessions (Tex.), head of the GOP's House campaign committee, are even cozier with Pelosi. They've voted with her 57 percent of the time.

And Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), the conservative firebrand who has compared the Democratic agenda to socialism? She's with Pelosi on 58 percent of House votes.

The data come from a Democratic leadership review of the 565 roll call votes in the House from January through the end of September, when Congress left Washington for the campaign trail. Since the Speaker herself rarely votes, the comparison is made using the recommended vote of the party leadership.

[The Hill, 10/13/10]