Democrats view the document as a potent weapon in the November
congressional elections and are betting that its emphasis on
austerity and cuts to popular programs such as Medicare will provoke
a backlash against Republicans.
Crafted by Representative Paul Ryan, the leading Republican voice on
fiscal policy, the budget proposes to eliminate annual deficits
within 10 years. It won approval on Thursday in the
Republican-dominated House of Representatives. Republicans
overwhelmingly supported the document, which got no Democratic
Democrats see in the budget a rich vein of material they can use in
attack ads against Republicans in this year's congressional
Republicans have been focusing on the troubled rollout of President
Barack Obama's healthcare law in their campaign to retake the
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday called it a "moral
imperative" to make sure the public was aware of the budget cuts
that Republicans are proposing.
"How we reduce it to a bumper sticker, well, we will see," she
The House floor debate this week offered a preview of the attack
lines Democrats will use on the campaign trail. They lambasted the
document as the "worst-ever" Ryan budget and conjured up frightening
descriptions of its impact.
"It's like a Dracula in sheep's clothing coming in to suck the blood
out of the middle class," said Representative Hank Johnson, a
Added Democrat Hakeem Jeffries of New York: "It is like a
heat-seeking missile aimed directly at the American people. It is a
parade of horribles too numerous to catalog."
RAMPING UP ATTACK ADS
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is quickly ramping
up an attack campaign against Republican candidates in important
swing districts, called "Battleground: Middle Class."
An email message distributed by the Democratic National Committee
warns of $2,000 in expected tax hikes in the Ryan budget for
middle-class families with children. "We've beaten Paul Ryan and his
budget before, and with your help, we'll do it again," it reads.
Democrats contend Ryan's budget is evidence that Republicans are
intent on giving tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations,
while cutting programs that benefit the middle class and aid the
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"This is a pretty clear signal of what would happen if the
Republicans ran the table and were successful at taking back the
Senate, keeping control of the House and taking the presidency. It's
pretty stark," said Representative Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from
Ryan's prominence as the 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate
and a potential contender for the party's 2016 presidential
nomination bolsters the visibility of the budget. Democrats believe
Ryan's high profile could help energize people in their voting base
who oppose the Wisconsin lawmaker's budget policies.
But Ryan, who is expected to shift to the chairmanship of the
tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee next year, has defended
his fourth and final budget and says he believes it will appeal to
Americans who want smaller government and "more control over their
Republican Representative Bill Cassidy, who is seeking to unseat
Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, brushed off the idea
the Ryan budget could serve as an effective weapon for Democrats in
the congressional election.
Cassidy said he believed the rocky introduction of the healthcare
law, known popularly as Obamacare, would overshadow Democrats'
message on the budget.
Concerns about Obamacare were the issues that voters in his state
cared about, he said, adding: "Everything else is monkey dust."
(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro;
editing by Caren Bohan,
Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker)
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