The Hill reports today:
House Democratic leaders bashing Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) latest budget bill have at least one good thing to say about the sweeping plan: It could help them at the polls in November.
Democrats have been focused on a populist economic agenda that includes an increase in the minimum wage, an extension of emergency jobless benefits and a broad expansion of health insurance coverage included in the Affordable Care Act.
They're hoping the Ryan plan — which slashes spending on food stamps, low-income education initiatives and Medicaid, among a long list of domestic programs — plays right into their messaging strategy.
It's generally accepted today that the budget proposals put forth by Rep. Paul Ryan since 2010 have harmed Republicans politically, especially in 2012 when Ryan's spot on the Republican presidential ticket made him an icon of their policy goals. Democrats aggressively campaigned against Ryan's budget proposals, particularly where they affected popular programs like Medicare and Social Security. Fact-checkers stopped short of validating the frequent Democratic campaign charge that the Ryan Plan would "end Medicare," but it's a much more accurate statement to say Ryan's proposal would privatize Medicare–and no less damaging politically.
The New York Times explores some of the politically unsightly details of Ryan's latest budget plan:
The unveiling Tuesday of Representative Paul D. Ryan’s newest Republican budget may have redrawn the battle lines for the 2014 election, detailing what his party could do with complete control of Congress and allowing Democrats to broaden the political terrain beyond health care and the narrower issues of the minimum wage and unemployment benefits… [Pols emphasis]
As with past budget proposals, Mr. Ryan seeks to eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, a $792 billion retrenchment, then turn the health care program for the poor into block grants to the states — saving an additional $732 billion over the decade. He would turn food stamps into a block grant program and cap spending, starting in 2020, cutting that program by $125 billion in five years. The budget relies on imposing new work requirements on food stamp and welfare recipients.
The Hill describes Democrats' countermessage:
To drive the issue home, the DCCC is launching an offensive effort called "Battleground Middle Class,” which will include robocalls in 76 districts, online advertisements and field effort investments. The DCCC unveiled their first round of Web ads as part of the new initiative on Wednesday, featuring an ominous-looking shot of a cloud-covered Capitol with the text, “Tell Congressman Coffman: Don’t sell out the middle class.”
In another Hill story yesterday afternoon, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) executive director Kelly Ward explained again why Colorado's CD-6 and vulnerable incumbent Rep. Mike Coffman is taking the brunt of this assault–apart from the fact that he earned it with his votes, of course.
In Colorado’s 6th, Ward said redistricting has made that race particularly competitive for Democrats.
“This is your sort of quintessential example of a district, where the district changed with redistricting, and the incumbent is now sort of out of touch and out of step with a very moderate district, and is having to kind of figure out how to reorient himself and is now admittedly fully out of touch with the new district,” she said.
In the latest Ryan Plan, Democrats see a chance to drive home a very powerful 2014 campaign message. It's difficult to understand why Ryan and the Republican House leadership continue to put forward these divisive budget proposals going into major elections. If Democrats do pick off Coffman this November, he may have his own party's budget proposal to blame–at least in part.
A vote could come in the House on this budget as soon as Friday, so Coffman had better think fast about how to handle this.