House Democrats are planning to take aim at Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan's budget proposals, a strategy they hope could help shift the focus of election year politics away from Obamacare.
The House Budget Committee Chairman is expected to release his budget Tuesday, which will include steep spending cuts. Democrats intend to tell the electorate the plans will harm the middle class, and will offer their own, more populist proposals, according to Politico.
"We can make this a referendum about whose side are you on and remind people that Republicans have consistently chosen special interests over the middle class," New York Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told Politico. "We can win big on the contrasts."
Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, has been meeting with Democratic groups to develop a rebuttal narrative and formalize amendments Democrats would offer to Ryan's proposals, Politico reported.
The amendments are expected to offer alternatives on education, tax, and infrastructure, as well an expansion of the Earned Income Tax credit for childless workers.
"Americans need to know what direction both parties want to take them," Van Hollen told Politico. "This is a time when the good policies we're putting forward are also good politics."
But according to Politico, the strategy is unlikely to make a significant impact. It could fire up the Democratic base, but would do little to boost the party's prospects for retaking the House.
What's more, Politico says, the Democratic proposals also have little chance of advancing in the House, and on past experience, the "economy-first" message hasn't proven politically productive for the chances of Democratic congressional lawmakers.
Nevertheless, Democrats believe their budget alternative will help protect vulnerable incumbents and boost the chances of Democrats in key suburban, middle-class districts, according to Politico.
"One of the reasons Republicans are obsessed with repealing Obamacare is because they don't want to talk about how unpopular their positions are on economic issues. This is why we're going to be focused on these issues — to show a broad contrast with the Ryan budget," Israel told Politico.
Republicans appear to be unconcerned about the Democrats' new strategy.
"The American people are asking, 'Where are the jobs?' And Washington Democrats have no answers," Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, told Politico.
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