It started to leak last night, but I'm guessing few Democrats read Paul Ryan's latest—and possibly last—budget by this morning. They didn't really need to, if they'd done last year's homework. The new Path to Prosperity, the nonbinding document that Republicans hope to pass in a partisan House vote, looked remarkably like the last Paths to Prosperity. This budget, like the last few, transforms Medicare into a "premium support" program (nobody say "voucher"), though no fewer than four times it refers to this as a way to "strengthen Medicare." It collapses the income tax to two rates, 10 and 25 percent, and cuts the corporate tax to 25 percent, too. It's probably more "extreme" than last year's budget, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities puts it, because to get to balance Ryan needs to make some deep discretionary cuts. But he doesn't have to get specific about what will be cut.
So, knowing that, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer could address a scrum of reporters today and announce that he "welcomed and relished" Ryan's work. Once again, the nemesis had repealed Obamacare while keeping its $732 billion in Medicaid cuts. Once again he'd gone after Medicare.
"It shows with all of these House Republican members running against all of our Democratic Senate incumbents are going to take it from both sides," said Schumer. "They're going to have to first defend the Ryan budget, and second they're going to have to say why they don't support our Fair Shot Agenda."
Schumer was using the name Senate Democrats had just given—like 100 hours ago—to their package of agenda-setting stunt legislation. Among its features will be a minimum wage hike and paycheck fairness. The Ryan budget stole no Democrat's thunder on that. It also didn't touch Social Security in any meaningful way. That means the GOP will go into the election with nothing meaningul tying it to one of the Democrats' preferred attack lines—that the party wants to cut Social Security.
See, the midterm's going to present them with an older electorate, and the Democrats want these voters to be just as afraid of Republicans as they are afraid of Obamacare. Democrats keep searching for ways to raise the specter of Social Security cuts. In North Carolina, Sen. Kay Hagan is currently looking at the 1980 Libertarian Party manifesto to prove that David Koch, the party's vice presidential candidate that year, backs privatization. In Florida, Democrats attacked now-Rep. David Jolly for lobbying for a conservative group that backed privatization. They really, dearly want to link Republicans to something they know seniors hate.
Ryan is denying them an opportunity to do so.