RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman met with Republican members of Congress this week to impress upon them just how bad the opinion polls are looking for them, and warning that they face a possible catastrophe in November.
This warning contributed to GOP determination to pass a tax reconciliation bill that will extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts beyond their current expiration dates at the end of the decade.
On Tuesday, Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and House Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) were supposed to meet with President Bush in the Oval office to discuss the tax bill, which, if passed, will be one of the most important Republican accomplishments of 2006 leading into the midterm elections. But Grassley bowed out, giving the excuse that he had constituents in town from Iowa. Even in the face of disaster, Republicans seem unable to get their act together.
Despite all the media coverage given to the issues of immigration and "corruption," polls show that the issue currently concerning voters the most — even more than immigration — is the wasteful spending by the Congress. With its vote on Thursday in favor of the rule for the lobby reform bill, the House has taken its first step toward patching up damaged Republican credibility.
Republicans will focus in their campaign on the danger of electing Democrats to a majority in Congress. Their catch-word is "dangerous," a word taken from an ill-considered appearance by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) on the Senate floor next to a sign (color-coded to match her outfit) stating "Dangerously Incompetent" in large letters. The Stabenow appearance was meant to highlight the administration’s incompetence.