* Dems ramp up campaign against GOP plan to “end Medicare”: There’s been some debate over whether Dems have stepped over the line by claiming that Paul Ryan’s proposals “end Medicare,” but Dems are doubling down on that message — and ramping up their push to make it central to the 2012 campaign.
The DCCC is pumping calls into the districts of 25 House Republicans, telling them to keep their “hands off our Medicare.” The script for the call targeting GOP Rep. Paul Gosar:
“Everyone agrees we must cut spending and tighten our belts, but Congressman Gosar has made all the wrong choices. He actually voted to end Medicare rather than end taxpayer giveaways for Big Oil companies making record profits or tax breaks for the ultra rich..Under the Gosar-Republican plan: Medicare ends, benefits to seniors are less, and costs to seniors increase in order to pay for Big Oil taxpayer giveaways and the ultra rich’s tax breaks. America is built on shared sacrifice. Paul Gosar is choosing to place the burden on seniors. That’s not right.”
Politifact recently dubbed the “end Medicare” claim “pants on fire” false, but many liberals responded that the GOP plan does end Medicare by scrapping its core single-payer mission, and Dems are unabashedly sticking with this charge. Also note that the call includes a nod towards the GOP framing of the issue by insisting that “everyone agrees we must cut spending and tighten our belts.”
The DCCC is also out this morning with a new video: “House Republicans promised to protect Medicare. They lied.”
* Backlash against Ryan becoming a national story? The Los Angeles Times frames it: “House Republicans face backlash at home over budget plan.”
Politico’s framing: “Freshmen feel the heat back home.”
* GOPers ducking town hall meetings? The National Journal’s Cameron Joseph points out that some House GOPers who voted for Ryan’s plan “have simply avoided meeting with constituents.”
* GOPers worried about Dem assault on Medicare plan: Don’t miss Peter Wallsten’s overview of GOP worry about the Dem strategy, in which Republicans say that their best hope is to make sure the argument is fixed on the broader topics of spending and taxes, not on Medicare.
* Dems may force GOP Senators to vote on Ryan plan: In an effort to exacerbate those GOP worries, Harry Reid is mulling whether to have the Senate vote on Ryan’s plan, to force vulnerable GOP incumbents like Scott Brown and Olympia Snowe to go on record on the plan. The fact that Susan Collins has already come out against the plan has Dems hopeful they can use it to drive a wedge.
* Increased revenues to be part of “Gang of Six” deficit plan: Conservative Senator Tom Coburn confirms that the emerging solution, which is expected to be a template for Obama’s approach, will include increased revenues by eliminating loopholes and reductions.
But here’s what to watch: Will Coburn and other conservatives taking the lead on deficit talks be open to a high end tax hike, not just revenue enhancers, in exchange for Dem concessions on spending cuts? More on this later.
* Conservative strategists warn GOP: Don’t play chicken with the debt ceiling: Jon Ward has a good overview of the political terrain Republicans are tiptoeing across as they seek to navigate the debt ceiling issue.
* Are GOPers really serious about taking us to debt ceiling brink? Aaron Blake games out why their posture is more likely a negotiating strategy than anything else. The problem is that Dems have not called the GOP’s bluff by unifying strongly enough behind a demand for a “clean” vote on a debt ceiling hike, so the GOP’s strategy may pay off anyway.
* Center shifts to the right yet again on debt ceiling: As I’ve noted here again and again, Dems have allowed the “centrist” position to be redefined as a “deal” on the debt ceiling, when everyone already agrees that it must be raised in order to avert catastrophe.
* Can Republicans count on White House to cave on debt ceiling? The result of that redefined “centrist” position: As Dem Rep. Jim McGovern points out, Republicans seem to be counting on Obama caving.
* In Beltway alternate universe, the House progressive budget gets no love: The justification for not giving the House progressive budget media attention is that it has no chance of passing. But as Paul Krugman notes this morning, the Ryan proposal is equally unlikely to pass, yet all the self-proclaimed deficit hawks are treating it as a far more important contribution to the debate, even though it doesn’t reduce the deficit.
* Another reason why Wisconsin matters: Chris Bowers on how Wisconsin Dems are offering a very sharp contrast to Beltway Dems by embracing the activist base.
* And the GOP budget would target food stamps, too: Jonathan Cohn debuts a new series designed to highlight all the other things the GOP budget would do that would be “troubling” in their own right if Medicare weren’t sucking up all the oxygen.
What else is happening?