Organizations representing the disabled brought families that would be affected by Medicaid cuts to the White House and to Capitol Hill this week.
"Medicaid has not until very, very recently had a voice at the table," said Michael Hill, senior vice president for communications for United Cerebral Palsy. The group is working with the American Association of People with Disabilities on a campaign to bring "that human face to the discussion of the debt ceiling, particularly around Medicaid," AAPD President and CEO Mark Periello said.
Anti-tax and tea party organizers are delivering the opposite message to Capitol Hill: Don't raise the debt ceiling without sweeping concessions. Many have rallied behind a Cut, Cap and Balance plan that would combine spending cuts and caps with a constitutional amendment to balance the budget.
The Club for Growth went on the air this week with ads targeting Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Dick Lugar (Ind.), warning them not to raise the debt ceiling without demanding cuts. GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) have introduced a Cut, Cap and Balance Act in the Senate.
The pro-GOP Crossroads GPS has launched a $7 million ad campaign also tied to the debt limit debate. Some ads target Obama, exhorting viewers to take away his "blank check." Others cast Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) as backers of higher taxes and new debt.
A new conservative advocacy group called Public Notice Research & Educational Fund has released an online ad with the message: "Washington could learn a lot from a drug addict." It compares politicians hooked on raising the debt limit to junkies.
And tea party organizers and conservative groups such as Let Freedom Ring — which is leading the Cut, Cup and Balance campaign — have focused their fight on McConnell.
"Mitch McConnell's plan shows plainly he wants to abdicate any responsibility for fiscal matters to the President," Mark Meckler, a national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, said in a statement.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.