Sensing a political opportunity, it appears Democratic operatives are going to keep pounding the Medicare drum as long as the beat keeps resonating.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House campaign arm of the party, is hitting the districts of 25 Republican House members with robotic calls warning about the perils of Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, approved by the House earlier this month.
The committee has also released a video that highlights campaign pledges made by some new conservative members of the House such as Rep. Dan Benishek of Michigan and Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada to leave Medicare alone. (Indeed, many of those Republicans ran accusing Democrats and President Obama of damaging Medicare through their healthcare overhaul initiative.)
Meanwhile, Americans United for Change, a progressive advocacy group that made its bones pushing back against George W. Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security in 2005, has thrown up TV ads in a handful of districts, including Ryan’s Wisconsin home where Ryan's plan got a rude reception at one event last week, bashing GOP members for their Medicare vote, and the organization has launched a calling effort in 23 other districts.
The decision made by House Republicans to vote on the Ryan plan, which would convert Medicare for those 54 and younger into government-subsidized private insurance program, seemed politically perilous from the start.
And as Kathleen Hennessey of our Washington Bureau reported this weekend, there are already signs among a restive voting public that the vote could have negative consequences, with town-hall attendees last week sounding off not only over Medicare, but also Ryan’s proposal to cut taxes further for wealthy Americans.
For their part, Republicans appear convinced that if they keep their message focused on slashing government spending and reducing the federal budget deficit, they’ll convince voters that they are more responsible stewards of the economy.
The GOP has now trained its focus on the upcoming Hill battle over raising the federal debt ceiling, contending that any increase in the limit must be coupled with deficit-reduction mechanisms such as spending caps--and that Democrats remain “in denial” about the fiscal woes facing the federal government.
And, for all the talk of a backlash, Republicans argue, Ryan and others have also been cheered by consituents for taking on the politically thorny issue of entitlements.
Here's an example of the message warfare from the Democratic side: