When Rep. Paul Ryan first revealed his House GOP budget proposal in the Spring of 2011, Democratic reaction was swift and biting. One much-maligned ad from a liberal advocacy group showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff, ending with the tagline: "Is America beautiful without Medicare? Ask Paul Ryan and his friends in Congress."
As Mitt Romney prepares to name Ryan as his running mate, Democrats eager to pounce on the newly created Republican ticket are almost certainly preparing similar -- if not quite so drastic -- attacks against Ryan's controversial budget plan.
Romney will announce his pick on the U.S.S. Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday morning. Sources told CNN he would name Ryan, the House Budget Committee chairman, whose fiscal plan Romney has embraced.
Judging from their past criticisms of Ryan's plan, Democrats seem likely to paint the apparent running mate as heartless for his proposed reforms to Medicare and Medicaid, the government-run heath care programs for senior citizens, the poor, and the disabled. And his proposals to alter the tax code, which have drawn Democratic ire, seem ripe for inclusion in ongoing attacks on Romney's own plans, which his rivals claim would benefit the rich while hurting the middle and lower class.
The $3.5 trillion Ryan budget plan seeks to stem ballooning federal debt and deficit by slashing spending and reforming Medicare and Medicaid. The House GOP plan also calls for a reduction in individual tax rates and brackets. Instead of today's six brackets, with rates from 10% to 35%, it calls for just two -- 10% and 25%. The proposal would eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax, while dropping the top corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%.
Democrats - including President Barack Obama -- compare Ryan's plan to an attack on the poor.
"It is thinly-veiled Social Darwinism," Obama said in April. "It is antithetical to our entire history as a land of opportunity and upward mobility for everyone who's willing to work for it -- a place where prosperity doesn't trickle down from the top, but grows outward from the heart of the middle class."
He added that "by gutting the very things we need to grow an economy that's built to last -- education and training; research and development; infrastructure -- it's a prescription for decline."
During that speech, Obama mentioned Romney, who was then in the midst of a bitter Republican primary battle, for the first time as a potential opponent.
"He said that he's very supportive of this new budget and he even called it marvelous, which is a word you don't often hear when it comes to describing a budget," Obama said.