By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
Nationally-recognized election prognosticator Charlie Cook isn't the only one who sees the majority for House Democrats slipping away. Today, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer agreed, but said that he and others will mount a strong campaign to try and convince the public that better times are right around the corner.
In his recent analysis, Cook suggested a 30-40 seat lost in November for House Democrats, adding it could be worse if the current anti-incumbent and anti-Democrat trend continues. Republicans need to pick up 41 seats to take back the majority.
Asked about it at a media breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor today, Hoyer says, "It's an accurate view of what the polls reflect right now. Yes. I have great respect for Charlie Cook."
He explained that Americans are "angry and fearful" because of job losses and that's blinding them to the recovery on Wall Street and other areas of the economy. "Roosevelt said, 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself,' and what he meant by that is fear can prevent sort of reasoned analysis. The proposition that I think that I've made is that things are in fact improving and they are improving as a result of policies put in place in '09 and that we continue to pursue. If that occurs over the next five months, six months, I think that's going to change the perception of the public," says Hoyer.
He compared the political climate to the first term of former President Bill Clinton, who had a bad economy that eventually came back and helped in his election four years later. But he lost control of the House and Senate in the meantime. "I hope that doesn't happen," says Hoyer. "I hope the model is not repeated where it takes that long to see" improvement.
On other issues:
-- Hoyer apologized for calling Tea Party protesters un-American. "That was not a good phrase, not a good use of language and it was not correct. And I regret having read it quickly and approving it, more candidly."
-- Hoyer strongly defended congressional earmarks and sneered at a new GOP effort to kill them. "Hypocrisy is always difficult to deal with. The Republicans quadrupled during their tenure from '01 to '06, quadrupled the number of earmarks they are now saying that earmarks of course are terrible," says Hoyer. "Earmarks are congressional initiatives pursuant to Article 1 of the Constitution which gives the Congress of the United States the sole responsibility to appropriate funds to objects they believe are important for the American people and for the country. Sole authority in the Constitution. The president has no authority to appropriate funds. His authority is to execute. If you put Congress in the position of the only way I can get something in my district, a bridge that we need for instance, or something like that, is to go hat in hand to the president of the United States and say please put this in the budget then I substantially skew the independence and the relationship between the executive department and the legislative branch. I think it is a fund error to take the position they are taking. That does not mean there's some pork."