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That's one of the ads Arkansas Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor is running in an early effort to show just how extreme his Republican opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton, is. It's all about Medicare and Social Security and Cotton's support for a Republican budget that was even more extreme than the Ryan budget. Cotton's made himself a big target, and is so far trailing in the polls.
In early 2013, some conservatives were unhappy that Ryan's latest proposal took 10 years to actually balance the budget—that is, to eliminate the yearly deficit. So the Republican Study Committee proposed its own plan, that balanced in just 4 years. To do so, it had to include major entitlement cuts that Ryan had backed away from, and include them more quickly. But it also proposed that crucial hike of the Social Security and Medicare eligibility ages to 70, starting in 2024.

The vote became an important litmus test for conservatives worried about their budget-cutting credentials. Groups like Heritage Action said they'd "score" it—which meant they'd deem candidates opposing it less conservative. And so that March, when Cotton was just two months into his first Congressional term, he voted for it. Now Pryor looks set to hammer home that one vote for the rest of the campaign.

It's a very smart vote to hammer on, because it was an extremely dumb vote for a first-term congressman with ambitions for higher office to take. He might be beloved in his gerrymandered district for it, but it's the kind of thing that a whole state's worth of voters might not look favorably upon.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu May 15, 2014 at 03:40 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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