Amid historically high inflation and a massive market sell-off, Democratic Rep. Jahana Hayes (Conn.) has no regrets with how her party has governed the last two years.
Hayes, who is running in a hotly contested reelection race against Republican George Logan, boasted about the success of the nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan, which is widely credited with fueling inflation. In a wide-ranging interview with Connecticut Public Radio on Tuesday, Hayes was pressed on whether the size of the bill—at nearly $2 trillion—was too large. Hayes responded with a question of her own: "Who would you leave behind?"
The rescue plan, Hayes said, "did stabilize the economy." The same day Hayes made those comments the S&P 500 hit a low for the year and the Dow Jones Industrial Average entered bear market territory.
Hayes's interview reveals the struggle Democrats face when discussing the economy, an issue rated as the most important by voters in myriad surveys. But Hayes has also taken a different track than some other Democrats by refraining from attacking President Joe Biden or expressing second thoughts on the wisdom of her party's unprecedented spending spree. Some Democrats in tight races, such as Cheri Beasley (D., N.C.) and Mandela Barnes (D., Wis.), have avoided appearing with Biden on the campaign trail. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) has said that if she is reelected, she will "continue to stand up to the Biden administration."
Later in the interview, Hayes disputed that the U.S. economy is in recession, despite traditional indicators saying otherwise. Instead, Hayes said, "in some areas [we] are back to pre-pandemic strength."
"In some areas there's need for improvement, but I think we should all be focused on the solution," Hayes said in the interview before disputing the idea that Democratic Party COVID-19 policies shut down the economy. "Right now I think the steps that are being taken are helping us to the fastest recovery we have ever seen."
Hayes has remained loyal to her fellow Democrats, despite running in a D+2 race that is a major target for Republicans. During a meeting with teachers' union leaders in May, Hayes said she was "incredibly blessed" and "incredibly privileged" to serve under Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
Those words were a reversal from Hayes's position in 2018, when she promised she wouldn't back Pelosi's latest bid for House leadership. Hayes ultimately said a vote against Pelosi was "a vote for the Republicans."
Hayes will face Logan in November. Outside Republican groups, such as the Congressional Leadership Fund, are spending heavily on the race.
CLF released two televised ads last month, with one highlighting Logan's parents' journey from Guatemala to the United States. The other features a picture of Hayes with Pelosi and Squad members Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.). Hayes appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with Omar and Cortez in 2019.