Democrats target Cravaack on Medicare votes

In a sign that Democrats plan to make the 2012 election campaign about national issues, the Democratic Congressional Committee is running an ad campaign aimed at 25 potentially vulnerable House Republicans, including freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack.

The ads capitalize on the Republicans’ vote for their party’s budget road map, which includes a plan to transform Medicare into a voucher-based system.

Many outside observers, including the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, say that seniors’ out of pocket expenses would rise if the plan were adopted.

Democrats have seized on the possibility that expenses will rise, claiming in the ads that, “Congressman Chip Cravaack voted to end Medicare forcing seniors to pay $12,500 for private health insurance, without guaranteed coverage.”

The ads go on to say, “Tell Cravaack to keep his hands off our Medicare,” a line highly reminiscent of Republican objections to President Obama’s health care overhaul.

The DCCC would not disclose how much it was spending on the campaign, which includes radio and online ads and robo-calls, but said that the radio ads would air frequently during drive-time for the rest of this week.

Cravaack narrowly won his seat last November in one of the biggest upsets of the 2010 elections, defeating long-time DFL Rep. Jim Oberstar.

His 8th Congressional District has long been considered a DFL stronghold and will be a top priority for Democrats to recapture in 2012.

Last week, Cravaack’s campaign reported that the Navy veteran and former airline pilot had raised $121,000 in the first three months of the year, a figure Politico dubbed, “less-than-impressive.”

But despite Cravaack’s possible vulnerability, no DFLers have yet announced plans to challenge him.

UPDATE

The outside group American Crossroads, which backs Republicans tells Politico the DCCC is spending only $160 for the radio ads against Cravaack.

The DCCC has not yet responded to a request for more information about its spending on the ad campaign.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Joanna Burgos described the ad buy as, “shameless scare tactics,” on the part of Democrats.

UPDATE UPDATE

The fact-checkers at Polifact have weighed in and describe the Democrats’ claim that Republicans plan to end Medicare is in the “pants on fire” category.

Polifact emphasizes that under the Republican plan, Medicare will continue as it has for those over 55 but goes on to say, “the Republican plan would be a huge change to the current program, and seniors would have to pay more for their health plans if it becomes law.”