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How Republican and Democratic Priorities Differ

The Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen pointed out a striking contrast Monday between what the Senate Republican leadership and the Senate Democratic leadership say their priorities are.

Here’s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) inn a speech to the Heritage Foundation a couple of weeks ago:

Over the past week, some have said it was indelicate of me to suggest that our top political priority over the next two years should be to deny President Obama a second term in office. But the fact is, if our primary legislative goals are to repeal and replace the health spending bill; to end the bailouts; cut spending; and shrink the size and scope of government, the only way to do all these things it is to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.

Compare that to what Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), speaking about Congress as a whole, wrote in The Hill yesterday:

Our number one priority is still getting people back to work. And the most important change we can make is in working more productively as a unified body to help our economy regain its strength.

In other words, while the top Democratic priority is creating jobs, the top Republican priority is winning the next presidential election.

Now I don’t need to call McConnell’s office to know he would say the comparison is unfair. Part of the Republican opposition to Obama comes from a genuine disagreement over how to create jobs. And later in the same speech McConnell promised the Republicans would “fight tooth and nail on behalf of Americans struggling to find and create jobs.”

Still the difference in emphasis is telling. Republicans in Congress have, after all, have refused as a block to cooperate with Democrats in order to prevent them from getting credit for any legislative accomplishments. That strategy may have helped them win the midterm election, but it also meant passing reasonable opportunities to compromise for the good of the country. It’s telling too that creating jobs is not one of the things McConnell considers one of his party's primary legislative goals. After all, he knows that creating jobs is at odds with his top priority—denying Obama another term in office.

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