Top Dem: Republican Budget Will ‘Haunt’ Mitt Romney

House Budget Committee Dem Chris Van Hollen says going after social welfare programs will cost Republicans politically.

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The ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee promised Tuesday that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the GOP will pay a political price for their attempts to avoid mandated defense spending cuts by slashing social safety net programs.

Monday night, the House Budget Committee passed a "Sequester Replacement Act," which would cut roughly $380 billion, mostly from programs like food stamps, child tax credits, and Medicaid, in order to forestall scheduled cuts in defense spending. You will recall that the defense cuts came as a result of the failure of the so called super committee which was supposed to come up with a long-term deficit plan.

[See a collection of political cartoons on the budget and deficit.]

Democrats are, correctly, pressing the argument that the GOP budget favors the rich and moneyed interests over the middle class.

"That's going to be a powerful argument that the president can make—after all Mitt Romney has said that the House Republican budget is—quote—'wonderful,' and I think that that's going to come back to haunt him," Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the ranking Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters Tuesday morning. Van Hollen was very careful how he framed the argument, making sure to talk about it in terms of the middle class rather than the poor—in other words setting it up as an appeal to swing voters rather than something which could inspire ire from them over the freeloading poor.

[Read the U.S. News debate: Will the New Ryan Budget Plan Hurt the GOP in 2012?]

"It's not just going after the poor, it's going after middle income voters. It's going after seniors and ending the Medicare guarantee," he told reporters at a press breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor. "Their proposal to Medicare would give seniors a much worse deal than members of Congress get," he said, noting that members of Congress have a fixed portion of their medical costs covered, whereas under the Ryan plan the portion covered for seniors would decrease.

"People do want to close the tax loopholes and they want to end a lot of the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and they recognize that if we don't ask the very wealthy to share more of the responsibility, then result is that everybody else and everything else gets hit a lot harder" Van Hollen added. "That's very clear from the Republican budget, that's very clear from what we saw yesterday."

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