By Justin Sink
Vice President Joe Biden on Monday hammered the budget offered by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), the opening volley in what Democrats say will be a sustained focus on the GOP proposal ahead of the 2014 midterms.
In a speech to students at George Washington University, Biden accused GOP lawmakers of an "incredibly narrow mindset that presumes that wealthy investors are the sole drivers of the economy."
"What they clearly value, this new Republican Party, is more tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class… because they genuinely believe in their hearts that that's the way in which you build a 21st century economy," Biden said.
Again on Monday, the vice president couched accusations that Republicans have "adopted an orthodoxy that devalued paychecks" in folksy wisdom from his father and nods to the impact the GOP budget would have on "grandmas" in nursing homes.
Biden warned that proposed reforms to Medicare and Medicaid would impact the sick and elderly, while accusing Republicans of wanting to slash education and infrastructure.
"I don't think you could have a better person out there raising it up and then bringing it down than Joe Biden," said Democratic strategist Doug Thornell. "He did a great job of it during the election, and he's a person who connects well with the kind of voters Democrats are going to need in November."
Republicans largely dismissed the vice president's remarks, saying the administration was attempting to distract from its own economic record.
“The vice president is lashing out because he has no answer for the question Americans are asking: where are the jobs?" said Brendan Buck, a spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner. "This administration has overseen the worst economic recovery in our history and has a budget that never balances, ever — and hysterical attacks from Joe Biden won’t change that.”
But Democrats think they could gain electoral momentum by keying in on the Ryan budget, which has proven fertile ground in elections past.
"It's a good strategy to remind folks, look, this is not just a referendum on the president or his policies," Thornell said. "This remains a choice in terms of if you want to go in the direction of the Republican party, and its extreme ideas in the Ryan budget, their incompetence in the House in terms of getting anything done, their nonstop commitment to repealing the [Affordable Care Act], or Democrats, who are singularly focused on investing and strengthening the middle class."