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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images

In a rare rebuke of their party leader, at least five Democrats have gone on the record to say House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's latest line targeting the GOP tax cuts is not an effective messaging strategy. Pelosi has repeatedly described the bonuses companies are doling out as a result of the plan as "crumbs."

Why it matters: Many Democrats are worried that they need to fix their messaging to hold onto their edge ahead of the 2018 midterm election cycle, especially as the latest polls show how voters are responding favorably to the GOP tax cuts.

What they're saying:

  • Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)': "I would not describe it as crumbs," Ellison told Business Insider. 'The income inequality is so bad that if you could pick up 1,000 or 900 bucks, maybe it helps."
  • Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: "I recognize that something was in there. And where I come from, anything makes a difference," Luján told CNN.
  • Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX): "'I would not use crumbs personally, and I think a lot of Blue Dogs would not use crumbs," Cuellar told Politico.
  • Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO): "Language is important, and we have to be very careful that we don’t insult people by saying that the amount of money they get is crumbs," Cleaver told Politico. "We cannot be seen as patricians."
  • John Yarmuth (D-KY): "I would say it differently," Yarmuth told the Washington Examiner. "I wouldn't say a couple thousand dollars a year is 'crumbs.'"

In her defense: “Big corporations and the wealthy are overwhelmingly using the GOP tax scam to line their own pockets, giving workers only a tiny fraction of what their labor has earned," a Pelosi spokesman told Axios. "According to Republicans’ own tally, workers’ one-time bonuses amount to only 3 percent of a corporate tax break that costs over $100 billion this year alone."

The other side: A House Republican campaign aide told Axios, "Already in special elections like GA-06 and PA-18, [Pelosi's] been invoked in attack ads, and she is the House Democrats' brand ... Now, she's continuing to dig Democrats into a deeper hole by continually and unrelentingly calling workers' tax break 'crumbs,' even as prominent members of her party openly dispute that characterization."

Editor's note: Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) was initially included in this list for saying at a press conference, "I think for people making $40,000 a year, any increase in their take-home is significant for them, and I don’t want to diminish that at all."

  • However, Crowley's Communications Director told Axios that he did not rebuke Pelosi's comments but rather disagreed with them, adding that he passed at the opportunity to fully come out against them.

Go deeper

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
30 mins ago - Science

It's time to take reproduction in space seriously

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Before humans can settle off-Earth, scientists need to figure out how — or even whether — people can reproduce in space.

Why it matters: Powerful figures in the space industry like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have dreams of a future where millions of people live in space, which would naturally require a self-sustaining population of humans somewhere other than Earth.

Market bubble or bust, Big Tech wins

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

With many bellwether tech stocks down more than 10% since the year's start, the industry is once again debating whether it faces a "big one" — a financial earthquake that will end a two-decade run of spectacular growth.

The big picture: Whether January's downs prove a turning point or just a minor "correction," tech's giants know that, either way, they'll come out on top.