The White House is urging congressional Democrats to adopt a populist attack on the new House, tying together several proposals Republicans have floated or voted on so far, Semafor has learned.
The memo, obtained by Semafor, highlights day-one legislation that would rescind money allocated to hire more IRS enforcement. The memo also instructs members to focus on Republicans who have called for entitlement cuts, a tax reform bill backed by some conservatives that would replace income tax with a national sales tax, and the debate around using the strategic petroleum reserve to lower gas prices in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Republicans are expected to consider a bill that would restrict releases from the strategic petroleum reserve without a plan to expand domestic oil and gas production — the White House memo argues it would “tie Presidents’ hands and hamstring one of the best tools we have to protect Americans from spiking gas prices.”
Together these policies will “make inflation worse, protect rich tax cheats, increase the deficit, raise taxes on middle-class families, and cut Social Security and Medicare” the White House memo warns.
The memo comes as Republicans and Democrats are nearing a standoff over a must-pass debt limit increase — the most significant legislation in the split Congress. Republicans have said they want to negotiate cuts ahead of any agreement to raise the debt ceiling and Democrats, including the White House, are a hard no, creating an impasse that could end in a financial crisis if the U.S. defaults.
Democrats are inches away from taking back the House and have had success in the past highlighting longshot Republican proposals (Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s plan to impose a minimum tax and sunset programs like Medicare every five years was a favorite in the midterms).
But it’s also important to note that Republicans are divided on cutting entitlements — there’s no specific proposal backed by leadership, as much as Democrats would love to see one — and some are already uneasy with a national sales tax bill, which is even less likely to gain momentum. So while the messaging is ripe for campaign fodder, it’s unclear if such bills could ever pass the House and even less likely a Democratic-led Senate.
Republicans also see opportunities to reframe some of these debates on their terms. On oil, for example, the House GOP drew significant bipartisan support last week on a vote to ban SPR sales to China.