Senate Democrats vow to run against Ryan budget in 2014 cycle

Senate Democrats promised Monday to make Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) new budget a focal point of their 2014 campaigns.

Ryan, the former Republican vice presidential candidate who chairs the House Budget Committee, will release his 2014 budget on Tuesday. He's expected to outline a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. 

Democrats argue changes to Medicare and other spending cuts outlined by Ryan will pay political dividends for their Senate candidates, who face a difficult 2014 landscape.

ADVERTISEMENT
"The Ryan budget will be a gift that gives throughout the 2014 cycle for Democrats," pollster Geoff Garin said on a Monday call hosted by the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee. 

Ryan's last budget gave Medicare recipients the option of switching from the traditional fee-for-service program to one in which they would get subsidies to purchase private insurance. 

This year's budget is expected to be similar, though in his drive to balance in 10 years, Ryan might speed up changes so that people who are now 56 years old would be subject to the new policies. 

Ryan's last budget wouldn't have required a change to Medicare benefits for people 55 years old and older, a key talking point for Republicans. 

House Democrats ran hard against Ryan's budget in 2012 and picked up some seats, though some believe the attacks didn't have as much of an impact as they had hoped. The budget was a factor in some Senate races like North Dakota, though it wasn't as much of a focus.

Garin and DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil promised candidates would attack GOP Senate candidates not only on Ryan's proposed Medicare changes but on other issues like "tax fairness" and education.

"What the Ryan budget does to education ... is really fertile ground in terms of speaking to voters about how and why Republican candidates are out of touch," said Cecil. "They are unwilling to compromise. They are doubling down on their extreme policies, and the Ryan budget will cement that view."

"In terms of this indictment of the Republicans of being very much out of step with voters, Medicare is indeed central to that," said Garin. "Congressman Ryan's approach to Medicare is out of sync with the electorate."

The National Republican Senatorial Committee pushed back, attacking Senate Democrats for not passing a budget in years and promising to use their forthcoming budget against them.

"After claiming for more than 1,400 days that the dog ate their homework, Democrats up for election in 2014 will be forced to defend a budget that features massive tax hikes, reckless spending, and more debt while ignoring a Medicare crisis that even President Obama admits can't be solved by raising taxes," NRSC spokesman Brad Dayspring said in a statement.

"Democratic incumbents in Louisiana, Arkansas, Alaska, North Carolina, Montana and South Dakota are going to have a tough time explaining why their first budget in four years raises taxes, increases spending, and fails to stabilize Medicare. The fact is that the Democratic budget will hurt folks across the country while helping the powerful in Washington by taking even more of the people's money for Congress to waste."

Democrats are defending a number of seats in red states in 2014, with few opportunities to go on offense. 

But Garin argued that even in red states where President Obama is unpopular, House Republicans are just as disliked. By "doubling down on their extreme policies and the Ryan budget," the GOP is more vulnerable, he said.

House Republicans who have voted for past Ryan budgets are running for the Senate in Georgia and West Virginia. Other House Republicans are mulling Senate bids in Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina and Michigan.