Not even waiting for the passage of the soon-to-be-authorized financial regulatory reform bill, the Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee is poised to use the legislation as a cudgel against the GOP.
From now through November, the campaign committee will push Senate Republican candidates to state whether or not they would repeal the proposed law, which the Senate is set to pass this week.
"If Republicans who oppose Wall Street reform are so offended by holding big banks accountable, then they should have to share with voters whether or not they would support repeal of the bill if elected," said DSCC spokesman Eric Schultz. "Any Republican who wants to return to the no-holds-barred, letting the big banks run rampant... jeopardizing Americans' savings and investments will absolutely be held accountable for that position during the campaign."
The strategy is adopted from the one the committee used following the passage of health care reform. At that time, the party similarly pressed Republicans lawmakers and prospective candidates as to whether they would repeal the new law, noting the expanded coverage to the uninsured and the tax breaks offered to small businesses that were integral to the legislation.
Not every Republican took the bait. National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said, initially, that he wanted only parts of the health care bill repealed, before clarifying that he thought the whole law was problematic and potentially unconstitutional.
But the strategy has been a beneficial one for the DSCC, to the extent that attitudes about health care reform have grown more positive and the party has become more willing to embrace reform's passage.
Whether the same tactic can be used for financial regulatory reform is an open question. For starters, there has been scant talk within Republican circles about repealing the bill, in part because there is no current debate about its constitutionality (a la health care reform).
A congressional Republican aide called the question of finreg repeal "humorous" before deeming it a partisan political ploy: "This is the Obama/Pelosi/Reid playbook -- point the finger at everyone else rather than run on their record. And in light of their abysmal record, and how unpopular their big spending policies are with the American people, they have little other choice." An email to the NRSC was not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, it's not entirely clear how much people know about or are invested in financial regulatory reform. A Bloomberg National Poll released on Tuesday showed that a plurality -- 47 percent - thought the legislation would do more to protect the financial industry than consumers, with only 38 percent saying that consumers would benefit more.
Still, the DSCC's efforts seem likely to be constructive, in that they underscore that the party actually has produced legislative accomplishments. The theme that the Obama White House has pushed for months now is that the choice in November is between going back to "failed" policies or moving forward with a reform agenda. No debate gets more directly to that choice than the one over repeal.