Jonathan Chait

Ground Zero Of The Ryan Backlash

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Why are Republicans in Washington freaking out about the Paul Ryan budget? Here's one reason why. It's almost single-handedly made a special election for Congress in a Republican district highly competitive:

Only weeks ago, top Democrats appeared to have all but written off a special election for a Congressional seat in the suburbs of Buffalo. After all, Republican voters vastly outnumber Democrats in the district, and the Republican candidate, Jane L. Corwin, a well-liked state assemblywoman, seemed to be a shoo-in.

Then along came Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Ryan, a top House Republican, released a plan calling for the most extensive overhaul of Medicare since it was created.

That, it seems, has significantly changed the contest in New York’s 26th Congressional District. 

The Democratic challenger has surged by relentlessly hitting Corwin for voting to end Medicare while supporting upper-bracket tax cuts, a lethal combination that utterly belies Republican claims that their changes to Medicare are a product of fiscal necessity.

If Democrat Kathy Hochul pulls off the upset here, it could break the discipline of Republicans in Congress. Of course, they already voted for the Ryan budget, but they may be a little more skeptical the next time they're asked to accept on faith voting for a wildly unpopular stance.

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