A group run by former top aides to Majority Leader Eric Cantor today will launch a new round of ads hammering President Barack Obama and lawmakers in swing state districts with heavy concentrations of military personnel over looming cuts to the defense budget.
In an ad set to run in Washington, DC, Virginia, New York, Georgia and Pennsylvania, the YG Network — which is operated by former Cantor aides — slams the cuts to defense spending that are scheduled for early next year and urge lawmakers to “keep supporting the Sequestration Transparency Act.”
“Keeping defense cuts a secret is just plain dangerous,” says the narrator of the ad, which is part of a broader push by Republicans to make the issue a central focus of this year’s elections.
Congress enacted the so-called “sequester” as part of last summers debt deal. The agreement requires deep cuts to the defense budget, along with reductions in entitlement programs.
Although envisioned as the hammer to force Congress to get the nation’s books in order, Republicans are pushing to rework the sequester to shift more of the cuts away from the military and toward domestic spending.
The television ad opens with a narrator explaining the sequester before asking: “What will be cut? We don’t know. Only President Obama and his most Senior Officials know, but they’ve refused to provide details.”
The narrator goes on to ominously warn, “A hint on the true impact? Obama’s own Secretary of Defense said the deep cuts would have ‘devastating effects.’”
The 30 second ad targets Reps. John Barrow, Mark Critz, Bill Owens and Gerry Connolly. Scott Rigell is the only Republican being targeted by YG Network’s latest ad buy because his Norfolk-area district is heavily military -- and is part of Virginia's swing-vote rich south eastern region. The Obama version of the ad will run in the Washington, DC area only, and the organization is dropping roughly $130,00 on the total ad buy.
Although Republicans began pushing Speaker John Boehner in early January to begin efforts to change or eliminate the sequester, leadership resisted those efforts, opting to allow committees to work up changes to the law that would shift cuts out of defense accounts and into domestic spending.
But that strategy also served a second, political purpose. By putting off the fight until the summer — when voters are starting to tune in to the elections — it provides the GOP with a potentially potent weapon against Democrats and Obama.
In particular, Republicans have hoped to effectively use the sequester to not only sour voters in swing states like Virginia that are heavily invested in the defense industry, but to also force Democrats in those states to either break with Obama or suffer a political battering.
Republicans in the last several weeks have ramped up their efforts on the sequester in recent weeks, to the point that former Vice President Dick Cheney — who has increased his profile with the Romney campaign recently — was scheduled to discuss the issue with the House GOP Conference this evening, according to Politico.
Meanwhile, new FEC filings by YG Action Fund, a SuperPAC that is a separate sister group of the YG Network, show that the casino billionaire and GOP megadonor Sheldon Adelson gave the group $5 million in April.
Adelson provided much of the cash behind Newt Gingrich’s quixotic campaign for this year’s GOP nomination. His donation came as YG Action was announcing a partnership with Maverick PAC, a group led by former Governor Jeb Bush’s son George P. Bush, to bring more young voters into the GOP fold.
John Stanton is a senior national correspondent for BuzzFeed News. In 2014, Stanton was a recipient of the National Press Foundation’s 2014 Dirksen Award for distinguished reporting of Congress.
Contact John Stanton at email@example.com.
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