100 Days to Decide: Republicans Bank on Anti-Dem Strategy, Platform Unclear

One year after anger over a proposed health care overhaul lit a fire at town halls and ignited the Tea Party movement, the stage is set for a volatile midterm election season, but Republicans appear more inclined to campaign on an anti-Democratic agenda rather than a pro-GOP platform.

An anti-Washington mood in the country could help Republicans regain control of Congress in November. They have relentlessly attacked Democrats on their massive spending initiatives, including the stimulus package, and argued that it has failed to fix the economy, the No. 1 issue for most voters.

Democrats counter that their policies helped the country avoid another Great Depression.

But that hasn't improved the tough political climate Democrats are facing this year amid voter frustration with President Obama and the Democratic agenda. Polls show a drop in support for the party, with economic woes and job losses taking a toll. A strong anti-establishment sentiment is expected to boost Republicans.

Democrats control 255 seats in the House, with 178 Republicans and two vacancies. The GOP needs to gain 40 seats to capture control of the House. One-third of the Senate is up for re-election and Republicans are looking for a way to get to 51 from the 40 seats they currently hold.

While House Minority Leader John Boehner is expected to release a blueprint of what Republicans will do if they regain control of the House, GOP strategists are advising their clients to avoid taking stands on issues that could give Democrats ammunition.

Case in point: Boehner this week revealed the top three measures he would pursue to create jobs if he became speaker of the House: repeal health care reform, kill climate change legislation and extend the Bush tax cuts.

On Saturday, Obama derided the economic plan from the top House Republican as repeating job-killing policies of the past that help drive the country into recession.

In turn, Boehner said the president had stooped to partisan attacks because he can't sell his own plan at a time when millions of people want to know what happened to the jobs Obama promised to create.

Days after signing into law tougher regulations on the financial industry, Obama said Saturday that those new rules are an important part of his approach to reviving the economy.

"It took nearly a decade of failed economic policies to create this mess, and it will take years to fully repair the damage," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address. "But I am confident that we are finally headed in the right direction. We are moving forward. And what we can't afford right now is to go back to the same ideas that created this mess in the first place."

Previewing one of the arguments he'll be making as he campaigns for congressional Democrats heading into the November elections, Obama acknowledged that the economic growth on his watch isn't nearly enough to replace the millions of lost jobs.

But he said essentially that the Republican alternative -- repealing the health care law, continuing tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals and rejecting investments in clean energy -- would be much worse.

"They are the same policies that led us into this recession," Obama said. "They will not create jobs, they will kill them. "

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that the private sector is starting to hire people and add hours, "and that's what's critical."

"It's going to take time to repair that damage, take time to grow out of this, but we're making progress," he said.

Boehner, responding to Obama's claim, countered that Republicans have better solutions and will stop Democratic tax increases and spending sprees.

"The fact is that Washington Democrats' policies have created uncertainty that has undermined our economy, shaken the confidence of the nation and cost millions of American jobs," he said. "Our nation needs leadership, not excuses."

In the Republican's weekly address, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., promised a fight against a tax increase that he said is coming next year.

Tax cuts enacted under Republican President George W. Bush are set to expire in January.

Partly because of voter concern over the rising federal budget deficit, Democrats are undecided over whether to extend those cuts, as Republicans advocate.

"The American people know we can't tax and spend and bail our way back to a growing economy," Pence said. "House Republicans opposed the Democrats' failed stimulus bill, their national energy tax, their government takeover of health care and House Republicans will oppose this tax increase with everything we've got."