Republicans Strike Back In Online Sequester Ads

New NRCC ad shows why Republicans have a harder argument to make on the sequester than their Democratic opponents.

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Last week, we posted the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s online effort to pressure Republicans to cave on the sequester. Above is the concurrent effort by the National Republican Congressional Committee’s effort to hit back, with a nifty Oscar theme.

It’s a good piece, but it is also a clear example of why Republicans have a somewhat harder argument to make in the coming days and weeks. The main idea in the spot, and in their messaging, is that America needs more spending cuts, and Democrats won’t give any. But Republicans are also, at the same time, asking people to “help fight the Obama sequester” which is a bunch of spending cuts they say the President created.

Obama’s main argument, by contrast, is simpler to digest: We need a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, and the Republicans want only spending cuts that hurt people like you, i.e. the sequester.

The difficulty of the Republican line is made clearer when you look at their double messaging on the sequester’s impacts. In releasing this ad, the NRCC points out that the sequester, if it goes into effect, will “gut approximately $9.4 million from West Virginia’s teachers and schools, it will result in approximately 2,000 defense workers being furloughed, and U.S. Army base operations West Virginia will be slashed by $1.4 million.” Sounds bad. But Republican leaders are elsewhere pushing the line that the the size of the sequester is relatively small, less than 3% of total spending.

Obama and the Democrats are arguing meanwhile a simpler line, though no less burdened by double messaging: That cuts are generally bad when the economy is hurting, but that Obama will still support some cuts and tax increases.

Rounding off the message complexity, the oppo dump that accompanies this spot announces accusingly that “Nick Rahall voted for sequestration,” as if this is a mark of shame. (Among the other votes for sequestration: John Boehner, Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, and 171 other Republicans.) Of course, Rahall did not vote for the two Republican efforts to replace the sequester in the last Congress.