Democratic Congressional Campaign Chair: Republicans Are 'Popping The Champagne' Prematurely

By Nicholas Ballasy | August 30, 2010 | 3:20 PM EDT

( - Democratic Congressional Campaign Chairman Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told that America is experiencing a “very, very fragile” economic recovery thanks to the $787 billion economic stimulus package that he said “stabilized” the economy. Van Hollen also claims that House Republicans are “popping the champagne” in what he called a “premature celebration” regarding the upcoming midterm election.

“Congressional Republicans inside the beltway are already popping the champagne bottles saying that they are going to seize control of the United States Congress. It is a premature celebration and I can assure you that despite the Washington summer political chatter, reports of the House Democrats’ demise are greatly exaggerated,” Van Hollen said during a “Newsmakers” press conference at the National Press Club on Friday.
After the press conference, asked Van Hollen if he agreed or disagreed with economist Paul Krugman’s position in an August 26 column regarding the state of the American economy. “It’s time to admit that what we have now isn’t a recovery, and do whatever we can to change that situation,” Krugman wrote.

“Well, I would say that it’s a very, very fragile recovery and I would agree with him that we need to do more and that’s why we need to get this small business lending bill out there,” Van Hollen told
“I mean that would create a pool for $30 billion that could be leveraged for a whole lot of small businesses and so that’s why it’s so important to pass that legislation.”
The bill has passed in the House but failed to pass in the Senate at the end of July. also asked Van Hollen, “With unemployment still around 9.5 percent, would you say that the stimulus has not worked and hasn’t done what the President and the Congress, the Democratic congress thought it would?”
“Well, as you know, I mean, the stimulus has stabilized the economy, it’s gotten us out of total freefall and as I mentioned, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has indicted that between 1.3 million and 3.3 million jobs out there would not be there but for the recovery,” he said.
“Now, do we wish there had been more job creation? Of course but it’s a sign that the economy was in far worse shape than any one realized. I mean, we were, the bottom was falling out and it takes time to dig out of a hole and that’s why we got to keep doing everything we can.”
CBO director Douglas Elmendorf wrote a blog post in response to the CBO report Van Hollen referred to when speaking to saying that the report tells what should have happened with the stimulus package not what actually happened.
“Although CBO has examined data on output and employment during the period since ARRA’s (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) enactment, those data are not as helpful in determining ARRA’s economic effects as might be supposed because isolating the effects would require knowing what path the economy would have taken in the absence of the law,” he wrote on August 24.
“Because that path cannot be observed, the new data add only limited information about ARRA’s impact.”
A new Rasmussen poll has revealed that 38% of U.S. voters think the stimulus package helped the economy, while 36% say it hurt.

When asked if a second stimulus is something the Democrats would consider if they maintain the majority in Congress, Van Hollen said the focus of Democrats is on getting the small business aid package passed.
“No, our focus right now is on getting this small business lending bill passed. It would be a big help to small businesses. That’s what they’re telling us and I hope that our Republican colleges will listen to that,” he said.