We're more than a year away from the 2014 mid-term elections, but the National Education Association is already calling out four Republicans, who could have pivotal races next fall, for what the union sees as their role in the looming complete-and-total fiscal meltdown.
The NEA (which, despite its official bipartisan label is seen as a major Democratic ally) is running ads in Washington and five other media markets that blame "tea party Republicans" for the current budget crisis. The ads highlight not just the shutdown, but the fight over whether to raise the debt ceiling—and sequestration, those five percent across-the-board cuts to federal spending that went through in March.
Sequestration has largely been pushed to the backburner, thanks to all the drama surrounding the debt ceiling and the shutdown. But the cuts, which are slated to stay in place for a decade unless Congress acts to stop them, could be very tough for districts to swallow over the long term. (More here.)
The ad, which will begin airing on television and online Saturday, starts off with footage of games— pinball, bowling, ping pong, a board game, checkers. The script reads, in part:
"These...are games. ... But Tea Party Republicans think it's all a game. They recklessly forced deep cuts to education, Shut down the government, And may even throw our country into default on its debts. Call Speaker Boehner and tell him: Stand up to the Tea Party."
The ads—which cost somewhere in the six figures, according to the NEA—are running in the home states of four key, rank-and-file GOP lawmakers.
They include: Reps. Tom Cotton of Arkansas (who is challenging vulnerable Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat), Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska (who made it clear earlier this year that he opposed a shutdown based on making policy changes to the Affordable Care Act), Tom Latham of Iowa (who is on the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee's list of vulnerable Republicans), and Chris Collins (another potentially vulnerable Republican.)
The National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee said the union has the wrong message here.
"It is disappointing that union bosses have put women and children in the middle of Democrats partisan political games," said Daniel Scarpinato, an NRCC spokesman. He noted that House Republicans approved a bill this week that would seek to reopen the Head Start early childhood education program. The measure is not slated to be taken up by the Democratically-controlled Senate. "Maybe these union bosses should focus their attention on the 166 House Democrats that voted against the million-plus low-income women and children who are enrolled in Head Start."
Watch the ad here: