Democrats chide Herrera Beutler over debt panel

Group: Supercommittee’s failure GOP’s fault

By Kathie Durbin, Columbian staff writer

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It’s only December, but the 2012 election season is under way.

A Democratic Party group launched a campaign Wednesday aimed at holding U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler accountable for the failure of the congressional supercommittee to reach agreement on more than $1 trillion in federal spending cuts.

A Herrera Beutler spokesman called the campaign “blame politics.”

The Camas Republican, a former state legislator, is expected to seek a second term representing the 3rd Congressional District next year.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it will use robo calls, live phone calls, online advertising and an online “action center” where voters can write letters to the editor about the priorities of House Republicans. The campaign will target voters in Clark County and throughout the 3rd District.

The DCCC even released the script of the radio ad, which says, in part: “Americans demanded a bipartisan, big, bold, and balanced plan to reduce the deficit and grow our economy — but that’s not what we got. The supercommittee failed because Republicans insisted on extending the Bush tax breaks for millionaires and refusing to include a jobs proposal, while ending the Medicare guarantee! That’s something that Democrats stand strongly against. By rejecting a balanced approach, Republicans chose to protect the wealthiest 1 percent at the expense of seniors and the middle class.”

The committee noted that Herrera Beutler, like most Republican House freshmen, signed conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist’s “no new taxes” pledge, which it characterized as “a pledge to protect tax breaks for the ultra wealthy at the expense of the middle class and seniors.”

“This D.C. campaign group ought to do its homework before playing blame politics,” retorted Casey Bowman, Herrera Beutler’s spokesman. “In their slick language, a ‘balanced approach’ means tax hikes on families and small businesses in Southwest Washington.”

Bowman said his boss supports closing “unfair corporate loopholes” and had asked the supercommittee to cut the salaries of members of Congress to save money.

He also disputed the charge that Herrera Beutler favored “ending the Medicare guarantee.”

“Jaime is trying to strengthen and save Medicare,” he said. “According to the Congressional Budget Office, Medicare will run out of money by 2020 if no action is taken … Jaime voted to preserve the program for today’s seniors, and make sure it’s still there for tomorrow’s retirees.”

Herrera Beutler voted for the 2012 budget written by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, which proposed to replace the current Medicare system with a voucher system allowing seniors to buy federally subsidized coverage on the private market. The Ryan budget passed the House but failed to gain traction in the Senate.