Mark Critz, engaged in a rabid primary race against fellow Democratic Congressman Jason Altmire in the revamped 12th CD, called his opponent out today in a press conference call. Altmire aired an ad criticizing Critz for voting “present” on the Ryan budget last year. The plan, up again now, destroyed Medicare as we know it, privatizing the successful government health plan for seniors. The Democratic strategy on that vote was to have everyone vote present to force Republicans into going on the record for or against Medicare. Altmire was one of only 16 Democrats who stranded from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s efforts and voted No instead. Congressman Bob Brady and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky spoke supporting Critz’s explanation of his vote. Here’s the Altmire ad:
The Critz campaign issued this statement earlier today:
At the time of the April 2011 vote, Politico reported that “Democrats asked all their members to vote ‘present’ on the conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget – an attempt to force it through the House – but failed. And illustrating the unease with which some still view Democratic leadership’s plans, more conservative lawmakers in the minority – like Pennsylvania Rep. Jason Altmire, Georgia’s John Barrow and Oklahoma’s Dan Boren – bucked Pelosi and Hoyer.”
The Democrats planned to allow the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee’s budget to go through in an attempt to sideline the less absurd (yet still draconian) Ryan Budget, which was more likely to pass. The thinking was that the Senate would never pass the fringe Republican Study Committee’s budget, but might pass Ryan’s, so the Democrats voted “present” to force the Republican Study Committee’s budget through the House in order to gain a tactical advantage and preserve Medicare as we know it.
The ultimate irony of Altmire’s ad is that by not playing along with Democratic leadership, Altmire actually worked to advance the Ryan Budget!
To claim that Democrats in the 12th District should vote against Critz for his procedural vote on the budget obscures the fact that Altmire was actually helping the Republicans pass the Ryan Budget by not voting with Critz and the rest of the Democratic Party.
At the time of the vote, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer said he was “disappointed” in Altmire and the small handful of others who did not vote present, saying “I was disappointed that they did not follow what I think was a strategy to highlight the position of the Republican Party.”
“I am very disappointed that Jason Altmire would distort my record on this,” said Mark Critz in a statement. “I stood with my Democratic colleagues on this vote as a way to kill Congressman Ryan’s budget that ended Medicare.”
The most remarkable part of this story, aside from the extreme distortion itself, is that the ad is narrated entirely by Congressman Altmire. I say that this is remarkable because Altmire knows the exact circumstances of the procedural vote, and surely remembers the tactical nature of the Democratic leadership’s decision. Rarely are attack ads with such flagrant falsities narrated by the candidate themselves-these types of wild assertions are usually done by a deep, scary voice from an outside organization.