Republicans like to argue that the GOP’s upset victory in NY-9 proved that Paul Ryan’s budget has lost its potency as a weapon for Dems in their quest to tar House Republicans as dangerous radicals who want to end Medicare as we know it. The argument is a bit strained, but it’s fair to ask whether Ryan’s plan is still as damaging to the GOP as it once was.
Now Dems are preparing a fresh offensive that they hope will reopen the wound Ryan inflicted on his party with his proposal to fundamentaly transform Medicare. I'm told the DCCC plans to go on the offensive in the districts of 50 House Republicans, pressuring them to say whether they agree with Ryan’s latest designs on the health care system.
Ryan gave a speech yesterday at Stanford University that laid out a new proposal to target employer health care tax breaks and replace them with a system of refundable tax credits for individuals. The plan would expand the approach he suggested for Medicare to workplace health insurance.
As Reuters put it: “The new proposal is likely to revive the political controversy surrounding Ryan’s proposal to phase out government-run Medicare and give subsidies to the elderly to purchase coverage from private insurers.”
Dems certainly hope so. The DCCC is going out in the districts of 50 House Republicans with a press release designed to get local media to pressure them to say whether they will — again — support Ryan’s controversial health care vision.
“Ryan acknowledged his new plan doubles down on his earlier controversial budget proposal to end Medicare that Bucshon supported,” reads the release going out in GOP Rep. Larry Buschon’s district. “Will Representative Bucshon go along again, with Ryan’s latest radical scheme to end employer health care at the expense of the middle class? ”
The NRCC didn’t immediately return an email for comment.
The political context here is interesting. As Brian Beutler notes, Ryan himself has been urging fellow Republicans to redouble their push for his Medicare plan, insisting that it’s no longer politically damaging to the party. Ryan insists that Dem “scare tactics” have stopped working, and that Republicans should not fear “false attacks” in 2012.
But Dems are now hoping that Ryan has given them fresh ammo to remind voters just how serious Republicans are about fundamentally transforming the health care system — and profoundly altering aspects of it that remain very popular — in the months and years ahead.
UPDATE: NRCC spokesman Paul Lindsay responds:
“The only healthcare plan Americans are familiar with is President Obama’s massive government healthcare takeover that is destroying jobs and forcing middle-class families to pay thousands more in premiums when they can afford it the least. ObamaCare’s disastrous effect on America’s weak economy will continue to haunt Democrats at the ballot box in 2012.”