The White House and congressional Democrats are preparing to step up attacks on Republicans over pocketbook issues like the minimum wage in the most aggressive and coordinated move yet to try to reverse the Republican momentum that threatens their control of the Senate in the final two years of the Obama presidency.This isn't exactly groundbreaking news. It's been clear for some time that Democrats were going to push for these votes to put Republicans on record and doing so is an important part of making these issues pop in November. As Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan puts it ...
The effort is set to begin within the next two weeks in the Senate when Democrats will call a vote on their proposal to increase the minimum wage to $10.10, and it will continue through spring and summer with additional legislation to eliminate the pay gap between men and women, lower interest rates on college loans and close tax loopholes that benefit corporations with business overseas.
“Ultimately, elections are about whose side you’re on,” said Senator Debbie Stabenow, Democrat of Michigan, who has been working with Mr. Schumer on the strategy.... and these votes will help illustrate that. But at the same time, I hope that Democrats realize that these votes alone won't be enough to make a difference in 2014. They also need to be backed up by a concrete pledge to follow through on them after the election if voters decide to put Democrats back in control of Congress.
They don't necessarily need a "Contract with America" like Republicans had in 1994, but they need to do more than simply attack Republicans for refusing to raise the minimum wage. It's already a foregone conclusion that Republicans will reject a minimum wage hike; attacking them for what we already know won't be enough to win the argument or election in 2014. The story also has to be about what Democrats are promising to do if they win.
The fact that Senate Democrats can't really make pledges on behalf of House Democrats—and vice versa—complicates things, as does the fact that Democrats in each chamber are probably more concerned about what the election means for their half of Congress. But if they really want to make pocketbook issues a central part of the 2014 campaign, it's a challenge they need to figure out. Fear of a Republican Senate majority is a good reason to vote Democratic in 2014, but if you can combine that with a hopeful narrative about what Democrats can accomplish if they retake the House and hold the Senate, you have a much more powerful message, one that might actually motivate the marginal voters who Democrats need to turn out.