Monday, May 16, 2011 | 3:08 p.m.
As Republican Rep. Joe Heck prepares to visit the 3rd Congressional District for a town hall meeting, Democrats are launching a political campaign against him.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Monday began releasing a series of automated calls criticizing Heck for voting in favor of a Republican budget plan that restructures Medicare.
The plan calls for transforming Medicare into a voucher-like system that subsidizes purchases of private insurance rather than a program in which the government pays medical bills directly.
The GOP plan also proposes tax breaks for the rich, another point of contention for Democrats.
"You’ve paid into Medicare for more than 25 years and deserve the Medicare benefits you’ve earned," the Democrats' robocall says. "Under the Heck plan, Medicare ends and you’ll have to save about $182,000 more to pay for your health care. Where will you get $182,000?"
"Everyone agrees we must cut spending and tighten our belt, but Heck has made the wrong choice," it continues. "Ending Medicare to pay for subsidies for Big Oil making huge profits or tax breaks for the ultra rich - that’s not right."
The ads are part of the DCCC's "Drive to 25 Campaign," an effort to win the 25 seats Democrats need to regain the House majority from Republicans in 2012.
(The ads also echo the attacks Democrats have started in Nevada's 2012 Senate race. Rep. Shelley Berkley and Democratic officials have lobbed similar criticism at Sen. Dean Heller, who also supported the Republican budget plan.)
Heck's seat is considered critically important -- and winnable -- because he is a freshman in a Democratic-leaning district. Heck won the November election by less than 2,000 votes.
But a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee said Medicare is in dire need of reform, and only the Republican plan keeps it sustainable.
"While the Republican plan preserves and protects Medicare for future generations, the Democrats' plan will lead to severe cuts in benefits for seniors and drastic tax increases in the coming years," NRCC spokesman Tyler Houlton said.
Heck will likely have to explain his budget vote Wednesday when he meets with constituents. He'll host a town hall session from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Boulder City's City Hall, 401 California Ave.