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Dems Rally on Entitlement Issues

The team of Democratic Party operatives who led the fight against President Bush's Social Security overhaul plan earlier this year are teaming up again in hopes of fighting cuts in entitlement programs ordered up earlier this year in a Republican-passed budget resolution.

The group -- known by the somewhat bulky title of the Emergency Campaign for America's Priorities (ECAP) -- has essentially the same makeup as Americans United to Protect Social Security. The firm of Hildebrand/Tewes, which is comprised of former Senate operatives Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes, has been retained as the general consultant; Brad Woodhouse and Cara Morris, who ran the communications operation for Americans United, will do the same for ECAP.

Woodhouse said late Monday that the group's primary mission was to "stop [Republicans] in their tracks" when it comes to proposed cuts in social services and entitlement programs in the wake of the massive federal outlay for Hurricane Katrina cleanup.

Last week, House Republican leaders pledged to raise the threshold of $35 billion in entitlement cuts mandated in the budget to $50 billion, bowing to the pressure from fiscal conservatives unhappy about the increased deficit spending of recent years.

ECAP's total budget will be in the low seven figures -- a total that included a major contribution from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) --  with the vast majority of the expenditures dedicated to a grassroots organizing campaign similar to that employed by Americans United. The target list includes between 70 and 80 House members as well as 15 senators who ECAP believes are persuadable on the issue.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 11, 2005; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Democratic Party  
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