Democratic leaders are trying to use congressional Republicans’ last spending plan to fire up their base while also criticizing Speaker Paul D. Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
A letter from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California on Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee letterhead focuses on one of the Beltway's most insider exercises in an election year when anti-establishment candidates are flourishing.
But the mailing also hits on many themes intended to fire up the Democratic base. That list includes tax cuts for the “ultra wealthy,” domestic spending cuts, and the party’s strategy for defeating the eventual GOP nominee. The Pelosi-signed letter puts the party’s 2016 budget resolution squarely in its sights, as well as Ryan and McConnell.
“Their extreme values and radical priorities are revealed in their 2016 budget resolution for all to see,” Pelosi wrote. She slammed the spending blueprint for proposing “massive tax breaks for their (Republicans) ultra wealthy campaign contributors paid for by ransacking the future of America’s hardworking families and seniors.”
She attempts to draw battle lines over those and other issues, saying Democratic voters and candidates are “standing against their extreme, out-of-touch agenda.”
Kentucky's McConnell led the Senate last year when the GOP crafted and passed its 2016 budget resolution. But Ryan, of Wisconsin, was still House Ways and Means chairman. His ascension to speaker makes him a player in national elections.
“Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell are pushing the wrong priorities and promoting the wrong values,” Pelosi wrote. “They’re captive to the tea party’s radical agenda.”
She warns voters that the Republicans want to “destroy the Affordable Care Act” and “gut critical Wall Street safeguards,” and put in place “draconian cuts to critical public investments that make it easier for middle-class families to buy a home.”
Zack Roday, a Ryan spokesman, hit back at Pelosi and the DCCC on Monday.
"Instead of sitting on the sidelines, Speaker Ryan is advancing bold ideas to turn around our country,” Roday said. "While the president has not issued a single budget that balances, the speaker and House Republicans are paying down our debt, reforming our tax code and creating a stronger, more prosperous America."
McConnell’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
The letter is part of a mailer that includes a survey asking voters about their preferred Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton or Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont. It also inquires about the kind of campaign strategy they believe will help the party the most, asking respondents to choose between categories like “grassroots organizing,” or “middle class economic policies,” to oppose the Republican congressional agenda and others.
The survey also asks voters to rank “how formidable” each Republican candidate -- including a handful that have dropped out since it was printed -- would be in the general election. It also asks questions about the party’s efforts on issues like health care reform, money in politics, the environment, education, national security, and others.
Pelosi told reporters earlier this month that Democrats find details of the Republican 2017 spending plan equally objectionable. She has called that coming blueprint “deeply troubling,” adding it “continues down the path of a road to ruin for America’s working families by demanding $6 trillion in cuts."
“Republicans are putting at risk key initiatives, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, to name a few. The Republican budget plan erodes our nation’s promise of basic economic security for all Americans, continuing to stack the deck for the wealthiest and well connected at the expense of everyone else," Pelosi wrote.
She called on both parties to “come together to pass a budget that is fair, that creates jobs, that raises paychecks for the American worker, and invests in the future of our country, while reducing the deficit.”
In asking for contributions ranging from $10-$50, Pelosi suggests Democrats could regain control of the legislative branch and retain the White House.
“Extreme congressional Republicans are a threat to everything you and I care about,” Pelosi wrote. “We need to fight back now by electing a strong Democratic majority in Congress and a Democrat to the White House to protect and expand upon the progress we’ve made together.”
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