The NRSC’s proposed ‘report card’

THE NRSC’S PROPOSED ‘REPORT CARD’…. The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent a fundraising appeal to its donors yesterday, noting, “Just as school children across the country will soon get their final report cards of the year it’s time to grade people on their past year’s performance.”

The letter, signed by NRSC Executive Director Rob Jesmer, argued that the coming election season should be “a referendum on President Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Democratic Congress,” and notes, “We have a lot of promises on which to judge them.” (thanks to reader C.R. for the tip)

Have they made good on their promise to curb unemployment by creating jobs? Have they controlled federal spending? Are they holding Wall Street accountable and enacting common-sense financial regulatory reform? Are your taxes lower? Is spending under control? Have they seriously dealt with the budget deficit? Will we now have a health care system that lowers insurance premiums and keeps the government out of your health care? Are they legislating in the open, putting meetings on C-SPAN, or are they making deals behind closed doors?

You be the judge.

Well, OK, if you insist.

“Have they made good on their promise to curb unemployment by creating jobs?” Actually, yes.

“Have they controlled federal spending?” Well, it doesn’t make sense to curtail federal spending during an economic crisis, but I would note that Democrats have had more success trimming the budget than their Republican predecessors.

“Are they holding Wall Street accountable and enacting common-sense financial regulatory reform?” Well, they’re doing their best, but as the NRSC may have heard, Dems have faced quite a bit of Republican resistance.

“Are your taxes lower?” As a matter of fact, they are.

“Is spending under control?” I think we already covered this one.

“Have they seriously dealt with the budget deficit?” Well, again, tackling the deficit when the economy is in the toilet is a dramatically bad idea. That said, when Obama took office he inherited a $1.3 trillion budget deficit. This year, some project a $1.2 trillion shortfall. So, yeah, I’d say Dems are doing relatively well on this front.

“Will we now have a health care system that lowers insurance premiums and keeps the government out of your health care?” Actually, yeah, we will. Premiums are likely to shrink as the Affordable Care Act is implemented, and all the government is going to do is give the public some safeguards against insurance company abuses, while helping the uninsured purchase private coverage. So, sure, we will now have that system.

“Are they legislating in the open, putting meetings on C-SPAN, or are they making deals behind closed doors?” In general, the former. There have been some private policy discussions along the way, but as a rule, this is as transparent a governing party as Americans have ever seen.

In retrospect, the NRSC probably should have asked better questions. Rob Jesmer’s letter reads like something that might as well have been written by the DNC — after all, it makes Dems look pretty good.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.