New conservative group targets Hassan, Kelly over Democrats' $3.5 trillion spending push

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EXCLUSIVE – A newly formed conservative group steered by a veteran GOP operative is going up with an ad blitz taking aim at two Democratic senators who may face challenging reelections next year over their party’s $3.5 trillion spending proposal.

The new campaign, by the Common Sense Leadership Fund (CSLF), a newly formed conservative nonprofit organization, was shared first with Fox News on Tuesday. The group released its spots as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reached a last-minute compromise with moderate Democrats to advance the package through the chamber.

“For Washington liberals, a $3 trillion power grab is their wildest fantasy come true,” the narrator in the TV commercials charges. “Handouts for radical environmentalists, gutting Medicare, letting bureaucrats pick your drugs, pie in the sky special interest kickbacks. Who will pay for all of the unicorns and rainbows? You will – with a massive tax hike, you’ll foot the bill for this liberal pipe dream.”

The narrator then urges Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire in one spot – and Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona in the other – to “vote no on the trillion dollar boondoggle.”

The group, steered by veteran GOP operative and former National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) executive director Kevin McLaughlin, tells Fox News that the TV commercials, which started running on Tuesday in the Phoenix and Boston media markets, are the opening round of what will eventually be a seven-figure ad blitz. 

They note that while Arizona and New Hampshire – two of the top four states that Senate Republicans are aiming to flip from blue to red in the 2022 midterm elections as they try to regain the chamber’s majority – are the first targets and more states will be announced in the weeks ahead.

“If Sen. Hassan or Sen. Kelly want to have any prayer of claiming the mantle of the common sense fiscal values, opposing this $3.5 trillion boondoggle is a good place to start,” CSLF spokesman Colin Reed argued.

“The tax hikes, the kickbacks and giveaways are bad enough, but what is most galling is the outright targeting of many private sector companies, specifically those responsible for developing the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines. It’s never too late to do the right thing, and either of these senators can stop this reconciliation package in its tracks.”

Democrats, who hold narrow House and Senate majorities, aim to pass the spending package along party lines using a parliamentary process known as reconciliation.  

The Democrats’ measure would include nearly all key elements of the president’s American Families Plan, including the creation of a national comprehensive paid family and medical leave program, funding for free universal preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds, and free community college for all students. It also expands the number and amounts of Pell grants, extends the child tax credits that were included in the COVID relief package, and funds numerous clean energy programs. The measure also provides funds to expand Medicare coverage for hearing, vision and dental and to combat climate change.

To pay for their plan, Democrats are calling for tax hikes on corporations and the wealthiest earners, as well as beefing up the IRS in order to generate more revenue by cracking down on people who cheat or underpay on their taxes. If it becomes law, the measure would become the biggest expansion of the federal government’s social safety net in many decades. 

Pelosi has praised the spending package, saying it will “will make bold, essential investments in our values as a nation.”

Progressive champion Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who successfully steered the spending blueprint through the Senate, which resulted in a 50-49 party line vote earlier this month, touted that if the measure becomes law, it will “restore the faith of the American people in the belief that we can have a government that works for all of us, and not just the few.”

All 50 senators in the Democrats’ conference – including Hassan and Kelly – voted for the proposal.

If the measure passes the House, it faces more hurdles ahead. Two of the most moderate Democrats in the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, have opposed the plan’s $3.5 trillion price tag. Sinema’s opposition puts more pressure on Kelly, her fellow Arizona Democrat in the Senate.

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