We've heard far more about the Bush tax cuts from the right in during the 2010 election season than from the left, as Tea Partiers and Republicans have denounced President Obama's plan to sunset the cuts on income over $250,000 as "the largest tax increase in American history."
But in one House district, labor is using the Bush tax cuts as a cudgel against a Republican candidate.
In Illinois' 17th District, which sits in the rural western party of the state along the Mississippi river, one of labor's biggest allies in the House, Democratic Congressman Phil Hare, faces a challenge from Republican Bobby Schilling, who supports a full extension of the Bush tax cuts.
The Service Employees International Union is spending $108,000 to hit 60,000 district households with four mail pieces attacking Schilling for that position, flipping the conservative script on the Bush tax cuts by pointing out that the Republican plan will directly benefit people who make lots of money already and reduce the federal government's revenue.
Republicans have argued that tax cuts lead to more jobs and broad economic prosperity, but the SEIU mailers point to the tax savings Wall Street CEOs, hollywood producers, and real estate developers will continue to enjoy under the GOP plan to maintain current tax rates. The fourth mailer in the package deals with outsourcing.
"This election is a clear choice," said SEIU spokesperson Teddy Davis. "One side wants to strengthen the middle class and invest in job creation. The other side wants to hand Social Security to Wall Street, end Medicare as we know it, and kill the minimum wage."
The message could play well in this district, which is solidly Democratic, even in such dire times for the Democratic Party: In 2006 Hare succeeded fellow Democrat Lane Evans, who had represented the area in Congress since 1983. But in a threatening year, SEIU is coming to the aid of one of its biggest supporters. Hare belonged to a union in his professional career in a clothing factory before entering Congress, and he's one of the most pro-labor Democrats in the House.
See one of the mailers below (click for full-sized images):