| WASHINGTON, April 10
WASHINGTON, April 10 Democrats in the U.S.
Congress can hardly contain their glee over the latest
Republican budget plan, even though they loathe the details of
the blueprint that would cut programs for the poor and funding
of medical research.
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
Republicans have been focusing on the troubled rollout of
President Barack Obama's healthcare law in their campaign to
retake the Senate.
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 added.
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 Georgia Democrat.
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 poor.
"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 Oregon.
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
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 lives."
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
(Additional reporting by Thomas Ferraro; Editing by Caren
Bohan, Peter Cooney and Lisa Shumaker)