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Why Democrats are cheering the Paul Ryan Republican budget plan

As they did last year, Democrats are attacking the Republican budget plan released by Rep. Paul Ryan as an 'end of Medicare as we know it.' They think it will help them in November.

By Staff writer / March 21, 2012

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin speaks about his budget plan Tuesday during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.

Jacquelyn Martin/AP



With the budget plan he presented Tuesday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin wanted to draw clean, clear distinctions between how Republicans and Democrats would handle the huge federal deficits now facing the US.

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Democrats, however, believe Congressman Ryan has just given them a clean, clear shot at Republican candidates in November.  

On Tuesday, they were already lining up to take their swing at what they considered a political piñata. 

The primary target, as was the case when House Budget Chairman Ryan released his budget last year, is Medicare. Last year, Ryan's proposals for reforming Medicare became a campaign issue, with one Democratic candidate in upstate New York winning a traditionally Republican seat in a special congressional election by building her message around Republican plans to "end Medicare."

Ryan has softened last year's reforms, even working with Sen. Ron Wyden (D) of Oregon to give his efforts a bipartisan sheen.

But so far, the Democrats' response to the Ryan plan appears to be a carbon copy of a year ago.

Before Ryan’s budget was even released, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee launched a “Medicare March” initiative, using robocalls to tie 41 GOP lawmakers to the budget. 

“It is still a proposal that creates a voucher system for Medicare and thereby ends Medicare as we know it,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said at his daily briefing on Tuesday. “Contrary to some assessments that somehow by calling it Medicare it still remains Medicare, we're going to stand by the fact that Medicare as we know it would be ended by this program.”

The problem for Republicans is that, as was the case last year, they've done little to prepare American voters for the plan. 

In 2011, “there was never any effort on the part of Republicans to sort of sell [the budget] first,” says Jennifer Duffy, senior editor at The Cook Political Report. Noting a similar lack of political preparation work this year, Ms. Duffy adds: “If it's the same sort of approach, then they hand Democrats a cudgel.”

The Democrats are eager for a cudgel. 

Republicans once bashed President Obama’s health-care reforms, saying they included “death panels” designed to ration care for the elderly. Democrats are trying to use the Ryan plan to create their own policy bogeyman: the death spiral. 


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