The midterm elections are only 80 days away, yet congressional Democrats lack a clear agenda to rally behind, writes Paul Kane for the Washington Post. The House Democratic leadership has issued three sets of talking points—a "we can't go back" anti-Bush argument, a "protecting Social Security" push, and a bill to protect manufacturing jobs—that have been met with tepid enthusiasm from lawmakers.
Kane contrasts today's indecision with the bold spirit of early 2009, when Nancy Pelosi spoke of an ambitious "four pillars" agenda. The problem for Dems is that even though two "pillars"—health care and education reform—have been passed, they seem like hollow victories to an electorate in the throes of economic despair. In fact, for some legislators, another set of bold reforms would only be a distraction from the imperative posed by the weak recovery. "Other major initiatives are in second place, need to stay on the sideline, until we get the economy back fully in gear," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.