Under Fire Over Obamacare, Arkansas Senator Changes the Subject

Mark Pryor attacks his Republican challenger over Medicare and Social Security, a tactic likely to be adopted by other Democrats.

Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., center, speaks with Col. Wally Walter, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, left, and Col. Don Wilhite with the United State Air Force, right, during a National Prayer Breakfast, Friday, Feb. 23, 2007, at the Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Ark. (AP Photo/Mike Wintroath)  
National Journal
Alex Roarty
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Alex Roarty
Nov. 13, 2013, 7:17 a.m.

Squeezed by Obama­care and an un­pop­u­lar pres­id­ent, Sen. Mark Pry­or is turn­ing to the Demo­crat­ic Party’s most tried-and-true talk­ing points in his fight to win reelec­tion: Medi­care and So­cial Se­cur­ity.

The Arkan­sas Demo­crat re­leased a new ad Wed­nes­day that as­sails his pre­sumptive Re­pub­lic­an op­pon­ent, Rep. Tom Cot­ton, for sup­port­ing cuts to the two en­ti­tle­ments. The ad, de­scribed as hav­ing “sub­stan­tial statewide cov­er­age” on air, con­trasts that re­cord with Pry­or’s. The in­cum­bent Demo­crat, the spot says, wants to cut waste but is also try­ing to make both pro­grams stronger. “I sup­port this mes­sage be­cause cut­ting waste and fraud is re­spons­ible, but cut­ting be­ne­fits isn’t,” Pry­or says at the end of the ad.

A source close to the Pry­or cam­paign said Medi­care and So­cial Se­cur­ity are a “ma­jor point of con­trast in this race go­ing for­ward.” The same could be said of most Demo­crat­ic cam­paigns. Many of the party’s strategists still con­sider a mes­sage por­tray­ing Re­pub­lic­ans as en­ti­tle­ment cut­ters is highly ef­fect­ive, es­pe­cially dur­ing a time of eco­nom­ic un­cer­tainty. Middle-class voters, they say, con­sider them cent­ral to their per­son­al fin­an­cial se­cur­ity.

And in a deeply-con­ser­vat­ive state like Arkan­sas, So­cial Se­cur­ity and Medi­care are two of the rare is­sues fa­vor­able to a Demo­crat law­maker; even con­ser­vat­ives vehe­mently op­pose cuts to the pro­grams, ac­cord­ing to polls. If Pry­or can shift the de­bate to those is­sues, and away from Pres­id­ent Obama and his health care law, it would be a ma­jor suc­cess.

In the last sev­er­al elec­tions, the en­ti­tle­ment de­bate has fo­cused on Medi­care. But Cot­ton’s vote earli­er this year for a budget that in­cluded “chained CPI” pro­vi­sions to re­duce pay­ment to be­ne­fi­ciar­ies has also left him vul­ner­able to at­tacks over So­cial Se­cur­ity.

Cot­ton’s cam­paign re­spon­ded that the ad’s fo­cus shows Pry­or’s reelec­tion ef­fort is already des­per­ate.

“Sen­at­or Pry­or is already throw­ing a last-minute Hail Mary pass, and the elec­tion is still 12 months away. Sen­at­or Pry­or must be scared to death that his votes for Obama­care make his reelec­tion im­possible,” said Cot­ton spokes­man Dav­id Ray.

What We're Following See More »
FIRST DEMOCRAT ENDORSEMENT EVER
Arizona Republic Endorses Clinton
1 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

In its roughly 125-year history, the Arizona Republic has never endorsed a Democratic candidate for president. Until now. "The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified," the editors write, as they throw their support to Hillary Clinton.

Source:
TO BE INCLUDED IN SEPARATE BILL
Deal on Flint Aid Likely to Avert Shutdown
5 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have reached a deal which is likely to avert a government shutdown. The biggest impediment had been the GOP's refusal to include funding for Flint water system reconstruction in the continuing resolution, and this solution provides an alternative measure likely to appease both sides. The funding for Flint will be included in the Water Resources and Development Act as an amendment to the version passed by the House of Representatives, one which will be passed in the senate. It now appears likely that Congress will in fact be able to keep the government open.

Source:
GOP REFUSED VOTE ON FCC COMMISIONER
Reid Blocks Tech Bill Over “Broken Promise”
16 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Monday night's debate may have inspired some in Congress, as Senate Minority Leader has decided to take a stand of his own. Reid is declining to allow a vote on a "bipartisan bill that would bolster U.S. spectrum availability and the deployment of wireless broadband." Why? Because of a "broken promise" made a year ago by Republicans, who have refused to vote on confirmation for a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission to a second term. Harry Reid then took it a step further, invoking another confirmation vote still outstanding, that of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland.

Source:
FLINT FUNDING STILL AT ISSUE
Spending Bill Fails to Clear 60-Vote Hurdle
18 hours ago
THE LATEST
FUNDING RUNS OUT ON FRIDAY
Federal Agencies Prepare for Govt Shutdown
23 hours ago
THE LATEST

As Congress continues to bicker on riders to a continuing resolution, federal agencies have started working with the Office of Management and Budget to prepare for a government shutdown, which will occur if no continuing resolution is passed by 11:59 p.m. on Friday night. The OMB held a call with agencies on Sept. 23, one that is required one week before a possible shutdown. The government last shut down for 16 days in 2013, and multiple shutdowns have been narrowly avoided since then. It is expected that Congress will reach a deal before the clock strikes midnight, but until it does, preparations will continue.

Source:
×