David Catanese has a story up today in U.S. News and World Report looking at Democratic candidates going after their Republican opponents for their support of the Ryan budget, accusing them of seeking to voucherize Medicare and cut benefits for seniors. This is the Dems’ answer, Catanese writes, to Republican attacks on Obamacare. The article focuses on the race in Arkansas between incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor and challenger Rep. Tom Cotton, pointing out that five of the nine ads Pryor has run have attacked Cotton on Medicare:
While some Democratic strategists have advocated for their candidates to embrace messaging that stresses their desire to mend the health care law, the early television advertising in a slate of key races suggests an inclination toward a much more aggressive posture.
It centers around a counterattack used widely in 2012: Republicans would gut Medicare, push up out-of-pocket prescription costs and threaten seniors’ retirement. What it lacks in originality, Democrats hope it makes up in resonance.
Nowhere is the strategy more pronounced than in Arkansas, where Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is attempting to beat back a potent challenge by fresh-faced, first-term GOP Rep. Tom Cotton.
Of the nine television commercials Pryor has run so far, five feature the Medicare charge.
While Cotton says Obamacare over and over and over, Pryor’s focus on potential Medicare cuts may be working, as recent polls have shown the race to be a dead heat.
So while the president is telling Democrats to “forcefully defend” Obamacare, expect Pryor to stay focused on Cotton’s votes, both for the Ryan budget and the more draconian Republican Study Committee budget, plus his opposition to the farm bill, the Violence Against Women Act, disaster aid, and much, much more.
Due to Obamacare’s unquestionable unpopularity in the Natural State, Pryor’s campaign team views Medicare as a particularly salient issue for them to raise. It allows them to address health care while forcing Cotton into a defensive position in a relatively poor state that has half a million Medicare beneficiaries.
Because Cotton not only voted for the Ryan budget, but also supported the more conservative Republican Study Committee budget – which eventually lifts the retirement age to 70 – Democrats see the congressman as uniquely vulnerable.
See here for the Pryor campaign’s epic press release slamming Cotton on Medicare: “Cotton is Only Ark. Congressman to Go All-In on Ending Guaranteed Benefits for Seniors.”