Just before House Republicans met with President Obama to seek common ground on the budget and other economic issues, the Democrats’ chief congressional campaigner discussed his plan to defeat Rep. Paul Ryan, author of the GOP’s budget blueprint.
Speaking to reporters at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Steve Israel of New York said, “As the architect of the Republican plan to terminate Medicare on the one hand while continuing to fund subsidies for big oil companies on the other, [Ryan] should be held accountable.”
The DCCC will funnel assistance to Rob Zerban, the Democratic challenger to Representative Ryan (R) of Wisconsin. Representative Israel described Zerban as a "businessman who decided that he would run specifically because he couldn’t stomach the fact that his member of Congress was the architect of the plan to end the guaranteed Medicare benefit – and to continue to focus on $100,000 tax cuts for people earning over $1 million.”
Political analysts from both parties say that the portion of Ryan’s budget plan – which would turn Medicare into a voucher-like program for citizens under 55 – played a role in electing the Democratic candidate in a special election in New York’s heavily Republican 26th district, last week.
“We said from the moment the gavel came down on the vote to end Medicare that we would hold Republicans accountable," Israel says. "It is a defining issue – and it does define the difference between Democrats and Republicans.”
In addition to the symbolic value of defeating the author of the Republican budget plan, Ryan's defeat would also include an element of payback. In 2010, Republicans targeted Democratic committee chairs, and succeeded in unseating John Spratt of South Carolina, then-chairman of the budget committee.
When asked Wednesday whether the DCCC plans to target other Republican committee chairs, Israel offered a general response: “We are going to target districts, not based on whether somebody is a GOP leader, but based on the situation on the ground – based on, have they cast a voting record that is out of touch, out of tune with their district,” he said.