Courted by Ryan, Blue Dog Dem stands by vote against GOP budget

Despite being courted by Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCutting critical family support won't solve the labor crisis Juan Williams: Trump's GOP descends into farce Now we know why Biden was afraid of a joint presser with Putin MORE (R-Wis.) to support his budget, a key conservative House Democrat tells The Hill that he stands by his vote against the GOP budget resolution.

Rep. Mike Ross (D-Ark.) told The Hill that Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, met with leaders in the 26-member fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition to enlist support for the GOP budget plan in early April, but he was unable to convince them to vote for his bold fiscal plan.


Ross, communications chairman for the Blue Dog Coalition, told The Hill that Ryan "met with us, but we quickly realized that the difference were too great" to support Ryan's plan.

"I'll never vote to privatize social security or Medicare," Ross added.

Ross released a statement in the immediate aftermath of the April 15 vote on the Ryan budget, saying “deficit spending must be stopped, but it should be done in a way that is fair to all.  These vouchers will force seniors to buy private health insurance when, because of their age, it is often very difficult for the elderly to find insurance that is both affordable and adequate.”

House Republicans, including Ryan, have argued that if Congress and the president fail to reform the entitlement program, it will go bankrupt in less than a decade.

Ryan’s office declined to comment for this story.

Democrats, however, have seized on the issue and deluged competitive House districts with doomsday advertisements that Republicans describe as “demagoguery and Mediscare tactics.”

Those tactics seem to have played a factor in last week’s special election in New York where Democratic Rep-elect Kathy Hochul won a long-held Republican seat.

Even House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE (R-Ohio) conceded that Ryan’s Medicare reform plan played a role in the Democratic win.

“And part of -- the small part of the reason we didn't win clearly had to do with Medicare,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerAre maskless House members scofflaws? Israel, Democrats and the problem of the Middle East Joe Crowley to register as lobbyist for recording artists MORE said at a press conference on Thursday.

Some in the party say that House Republicans need to improve their messaging of the plan, which was offered as an incentive to the rank-and-file one day after the chamber voted for a compromise measure to fund the government for the remainder of 2011.

Political operatives critical of the GOP leadership decision to vote on Ryan’s plan while the House was in the midst of a drawn out debate over a bill to avert government shutdown, equate the vote on the budget plan to then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) decision to vote on a cap-and-trade energy bill in 2009.

At the time, Pelosi’s signature climate change measure created political headaches for conservative Democrats in the caucus and many believe, set the party up for major losses in last year’s GOP wave election.

In both cases, the measures ultimately went nowhere in the Senate. Five Republicans joined with Democrats to defeat Ryan’s budget plan in the Senate last week. The Senate failed to consider Pelosi’s climate change bill.

Whereas the cap-and-trade bill garnered a handful of votes from GOP centrists in the House, Ryan’s budget blueprint earned zero Democratic votes.

Only four Republicans voted against it, including West Virginia freshman Rep. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate path uncertain after House approves Jan. 6 panel House fails to pass drug bill amid Jan. 6 tensions The Memo: Hunter Biden and the politics of addiction MORE, who won a hard fought race in a Democratic-leaning district last November.

“My vote was appropriate for my district. That’s why I’ve not criticized anyone else for their vote on that,” McKinley said in an interview. His district, he said, is an “aged district.”

“It’s in West Virginia, one of the oldest states in the nation,” he said. “I’ll be able to defend mine because of what it did for me. I hope others will be able to equally do the same, because I think it’s important that we start this dialogue. This was just a wrong – it was a wrong bill.”

McKinley said he found the budget proposal offered by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), which doesn’t go as far on Medicare, more attractive.

Russell Berman contributed to this story.