'Next Time I'm Voting Present'

In Congress, sometimes you just can’t win.

The National Republican Congressional Committee sent out two separate press releases Wednesday attacking both Democrats who supported legislation that would shield millions of taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax and those who voted against it.

The committee blasted the 64 Democrats who voted against the bill for “raising taxes on hard-working Americans.” The Democrats voting against included the party leadership and most Blue Dog Democrats, who have made fighting budget deficits a priority.

But the Republican reelection committee also slammed many of the 161 Democrats who sided with them on the measure, criticizing these lawmakers for breaking a campaign pledge not to borrow money to finance the one-year AMT patch — even though these Democrats joined all 191 Republicans in supporting the legislation. Apparently, fiscal discipline works only if you have an "R" after your name.

For the record, the bill passed, 352-64.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee cried foul on the Republicans’ two-tiered attacks.

“Next time Republicans choose to launch hastily put-together attacks, they might want to figure out what they stand for first,” said DCCC spokesman Doug Thornell. “Rather than supporting anything, Republicans prefer to be the party of no and stand for nothing except simultaneously opposing both fiscal responsibility and tax cuts for 23 million Americans.”

But NRCC spokeswoman Julie Shutley argued that Democrats put themselves in a bind.

“Our position is they haven’t legislated very well. Now they’re in a bad spot,” Shutley said. “When it comes to the bill, they put themselves in a lose-lose situation.”

Of course, consistency has never been a central tenet of either committee, where the goal is to bend a congressman's record around his neck so tight that his head explodes. So our advice to the candidates: Get used to it.

Patrick O'Connor is responsible for the closing quip.