The second highest ranking Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin (D-IL) told a local TV station on Wednesday that the economy is “strong” despite the S&P downgrade. While largely in line with the White House’s views on the downgrade, his comments came the same day that Democrats attacked Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) over a near identical quote.
“I still think the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are sound,” Durbin told FOX Chicago News. “I don’t care what S&P says.”
In a press release yesterday, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee condemned Lugar as “out of touch” for telling a local TV station: “The American economy is still strong, that we’re making progress although it’s very slow in terms of job creation, and that we still have a dollar that is the world currency and we are still selling bonds to everybody all over the world despite the S&P downgrade.”
Both were making the point that they disagreed with the S&P’s decision since America’s financial health is better than the agency indicated. The DSCC’s Wednesday statement was unusual in that Republicans are typically more active in downplaying the strength of the economy, since it bolsters their argument that President Obama’s economic agenda hasn’t produced sufficient results. Obama himself has come out strong against the S&P decision using similar arguments to Lugar and Durbin.
“It’s unfortunate that the Democrats, the Obama administration, and [Lugar primary opponent] Richard Mourdock are playing politics with the United States economy,” Lugar spokesman David Willkie told TPM on Thursday. “Dick Lugar’s focus is on jobs and solving our economic problems.”
TPM reached out to the DSCC, but did not immediately receive a response.
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.