Campaign 2010

Aug 12, 2012

Ryan Budget Puts Republicans in Deep Jeopardy over Medicare

Bring it on. House Democrats and candidates have been hungry for a national debate on the failed policies in Paul Ryan’s Republican budget that ends Medicare and Mitt Romney just gave that to us and to Democratic candidates across the country.


Political analyst Stu Rothenberg wrote, “Ryan’s selection could potentially change the dynamic in the fight for Congress. It gives Democratic candidates nationally a potentially important narrative to appeal to swing voters.”


Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post called Congressional Democrats the “winners” from this announcement writing that, “By putting Ryan on the ticket, Romney has handed House and Senate Democrats a golden opportunity to make downballot races a referendum on his budget proposal. And, they have some evidence that strategy can pay dividends in swing seats; this spring Rep. Kathy Hochul (D) won an Upstate New York swing district running primarily on her opposition to the Ryan plan.”


With Mitt Romney naming Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate, the Republican budget authored by Ryan is now the ticket mate for every Republican in a Congressional race this November.  Already on offense in the “Drive for 25” to win the House Majority, Democrats have a tremendous new opportunity to define Republicans’ misguided, wrong priorities that put millionaires over Medicare and the middle class.


From national polling, and after testing this issue in Republican-leaning districts during special elections, it’s crystal clear this will be a defining issue in Congressional races across the country and House Republicans can’t escape the political devastation it will cause them.


POLLS: RYAN BUDGET IS TOXIC FOR REPUBLICANS WHO SUPPORT IT:  Polling from the time of the vote in 2011 to now shows that Ryan’s budget is lethal and extremely unpopular among voters, especially independents and seniors.


A recent Democracy Corps battle ground poll of Republican held Congressional districts found:

  • 66 percent of all voters have very serious or somewhat serious doubts about the Ryan plan to massively cut Medicare and force seniors to pay $6,000 more a year for health care
  • 72 percent of seniors and 60 percent of independents have very serious or serious doubts about the Ryan plan to massively cut Medicare


THE RYAN BUDGET IS A LOSING ISSUE: TALES FROM NY-26 and AZ-08: Democrats’ special election wins in NY-26, a deep red conservative district, and AZ-08, a Republican-leaning district, show that the Ryan plan to end Medicare while protecting tax breaks for millionaires is a losing issue for Republicans. In both races, Republicans rehashed their 2010 messaging and lost to Democrats who were making the race about Ryan’s budget.


NY-26: NYT Headline: Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan [New York Times, 5/24/11]


AZ-08: AZ Daily Star Headline: “Seniors' benefits dominate CD8 race” [AZ Daily Star, 5/13/12]


For a preview of what’s to come, watch the ad the DCCC ran in the recent AZ-08 special election that became about Medicare. The same ad can be run against any Republican incumbent who voted for the Ryan budget or any candidate supporting the Ryan budget.


As the Washington Post reported about that AZ-08 race, “Instead, the race centered on Barber’s connections to the national Democratic Party and Kelly’s past statements about overhauling the nation’s entitlement programs, including Social Security and Medicare…A Barber win would be the result in large part of Democratic efforts to define Kelly early on as being against Medicare and Social Security in the 11th-oldest district in the country.”


BEYOND MEDICARE, WHY THE RYAN BUDGET IS BAD: The Ryan budget not only ends Medicare but puts millionaires first and the middle class last. The Republican budget that Ryan wrote would give people making at least $1 million per year a $394,000 tax break while cutting:

  • 4.1 million jobs,
  • college aid for 10 million students by slashing Pell Grants by 45 percent, and
  • transportation investments in roads, bridges, airports, and rail lines


REPUBLICANS ON THE RUN FROM RYAN BUDGET: If there is any question about whether Republicans are worried about the Ryan budget, look no further than Republicans themselves. Republicans now have to defend the budget that former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich famously called “thinly veiled right-wing social engineering.” And, that’s from the guy who said Medicare should wither on the vine.


NYT Headline: Republican Budget Plan Comes Under Fire From Unlikely Source: G.O.P. Candidates [NY Times, 6/22/12]

  • Congressman Denny Rehberg (MT-AL): “a Republican budget plan that could harm the Medicare programs so many of Montana’s seniors rely on.”
  • Congressman David McKinley (WV-01) wrote that the Ryan plan would “privatize Medicare for future retirees, raise the retirement age and keep in place the Medicare cuts included in last year’s health care bill. The Congressional Budget Office determined the plan would nearly double out-of-pocket healthcare costs for future retirees.”


As one Republican strategist involved in the 2012 campaign told Politico Saturday, “We might as well have just picked a random Heritage Foundation analyst. The good news is that this ticket now has a vision. The bad news is that vision is basically just a chart of numbers used to justify policies that are extremely unpopular.”

But Republicans have been warning about the damage this will do for months – and now it has a national face. Last year, Politico reported that a Republican aide said: “You have a couple dozen members who are going to pay a pretty serious price for this vote if they end up in a tough race.”  Envisioning Democratic ads savaging the GOP over Ryan’s plan, the Republican said: “It’s not just cuts to Medicare. It’s ‘Republicans are ending Medicare as we know it.’ That’s not demagoguery. That is the case. This budget ends Medicare as we know it.”

BOTTOM LINE: RYAN BUDGET MEANS REPUBLICANS IN DANGER: From now until Election Day, Democrats will be on offense and seizing the opportunity to run and win on the issue of the Ryan budget that protects millionaires and special interests, while hurting Medicare for seniors. It’s been a winning issue for Democrats this cycle, and will continue to be as every Republican in a congressional race has a new ticketmate: Paul Ryan’s budget.

One year ago, Political analyst Charlie Cook wrote that Ryan’s Republican budget could be a “Death Wish” for Republicans saying that “Republicans pushing to revamp Medicare could find themselves voted out of office in the next election.” Now their “Death Wish” gets a national stage.