Paul Ryan proposed an imperfect balanced budget that passed the House Thursday night, but failed in the Senate. This was to be expected, but the ramifications of this vote will be felt in the months ahead through the midterm elections.
Ryan knew his budget would not pass a hostile Democrat-controlled Senate. It was a largely symbolic vote where the vote tally meant more than the substance of the bill. While most congressmen voted along party lines, the few who did not line up with their fellow party members will be in the line of fire in the 2014 midterm elections.
Five Senate Republicans crossed party lines against Ryan’s plan: Senators Rand Paul (Ky.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Susan Collins (Maine), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Mike Lee (Utah). This will give Democrats both more negotiating power when their version of a balanced budget is proposed and fodder for next year’s Senate races. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign said last week that it would target 14 House Republicans who might run for Senate seats in 2014 by tying the lawmakers back to the Ryan budget.
On the other side, the Republicans wasted no time running ads targeting Democratic House members who voted against the controversial bill.
Less than 24 hours after the vote, a super PAC tied to House Speaker Boehner, the Congressional Leadership Fund, is on the air in New York and Florida targeting two Democrats who voted against the bill in suburban-leaning Republican districts. Republicans unveiled their trump card in the form of a Senate Resolution on a balanced budget through Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). Democrats are now on record in opposition of balancing the budget by the end of the decade. Well played, Republicans.
The Democrats' playbook shows an even stronger counterattack. While Republicans are already on the airwaves blasting them on voting against a balanced budget, the Democrats are awaiting to see how their version of a budget proposal will shake out. Likely ads will run in the coming months on Republicans being unsympathetic to the middle class and working poor by slashing Medicare. This will be their pièce de résistance. This attempt will be to show that the Democrats have tried to work together with their Republican counterparts, but they just don’t care about millionaires and billionaires paying their "fair share."
We may have had a brief respite from the general election in November, but this is politics. It’s only going to get worse. In the words of Mao Tse–Tung, "politics is a war without bloodshed."