As negotiators try to strike a stimulus deal, the rank-and-file in Congress is being buffeted by both sides.
The three Republican senators who voted for the package on Tuesday are being assailed by GOP groups.
Meanwhile, advocacy groups supporting President Obama's stimulus bill is targeting 18 House members and 3 senators in swing districts who voted "no" with new radio ads. The spots are sponsored by Americans United for Change and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
"Haven't you ever wished you had a second chance to do the right thing?" the announcer says, naming the member of Congress and saying he or she " has a second chance to get it right when it comes to our economic crisis."
The spot warns that 20,000 Americans are losing their jobs every day and points out that "groups from the US Chamber of Commerce to organized labor are supporting the Obama jobs plan" before urging listeners to call their representative and tell them "we can't let partisan wrangling stand in the way of creating the jobs we desperately need."
AFSCME and Americans United for Change also are airing a national cable TV ad targeting Republican leaders opposing the stimulus.
"Our economy in crisis," the announcer says. "Millions out of work. That’s why 80 percent of Americans support a plan like President Obama’s to create jobs. But Republican leaders? They’re 'just saying no.' No to changing the failed economic policies of the past eight years.
"We’re in an economic crisis and Republican leaders are playing politics instead of doing what's right," the spot continues. "Call the Republican Leadership – tell them no is not an option."
One of those pictured in the ad, Representative Eric Cantor, was apparently none too happy with it. Politico reports that Cantor's spokesman responded with a dubbed-over, profanity-filled 1970s video mocking AFSCME.
That prompted an outpouring of outrage this afternoon from the advocacy groups.
AFSCME President Gerald McEntee: “Eric Cantor may think the greatest economic crisis in seventy years is a joke, but we don’t. He should talk to the people in Virginia who are losing their jobs, health care and homes.”
Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change: "Does Eric Cantor believe that peddling profanity-laced filth around the Internet is consistent with the values of the people of Virginia or the country? This is childish, inappropriate and disgusting behavior from someone who is supposed to be a leader in Congress and a role model to others. Eric Cantor’s response to one of the most serious crises facing America in our lifetimes is to spread this filth, denigrate government employees and treat the current economic crisis like a joke. This video has been floating around on YouTube for years – but Eric Cantor’s use of it in this context shows how completely and utterly out of touch he is with the current economic crisis and the lives of his constituents. Eric Cantor should be ashamed and he should apologize.”
AFL-CIO President John Sweeney: "During these tough economic times the last thing hard working Americans need is to be ridiculed by a member of the Republican leadership. Rep. Cantor should apologize for insulting America's workers with this profane video."
UPDATE: Cantor's spokesman, Brad Dayspring, issued a statement apologizing for the video: "I would like to apologize for a joke that was in no way an official response from Congressman Cantor, but instead an inappropriate email. I apologize to AFSCME for my inappropriate email containing an old video. Let me be clear, we know people are hurting in these trying times and House Republicans completely agree that we must pass an economic recovery bill that preserves, protects and create jobs for Americans facing these economic challenges."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.