WASHINGTON -- With the nation less than a week away from the Aug. 2 deadline to raise the debt ceiling, a group of progressive and labor organizations have launched a new ad campaign targeting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and six other Republican House members, pressuring them to strike a deal to prevent the country from defaulting on its obligations.
The six-figure ad buy will be airing Friday through Monday in the districts of Republican Reps. Lou Barletta (Pa.), Ann Marie Buerkle (N.Y.), Eric Cantor (Va.), Chip Cravaack (Minn.), Dean Heller (Nev.), Steve King (Iowa), Denny Rehberg (Mont.) and Bobby Schilling (Ill.).
The groups sponsoring the campaign are Americans United for Change; Service Employees International Union; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and the National Education Association.
The ads tell Americans to place blame squarely on the shoulders of Republicans if the country fails to raise the debt limit in time to prevent default and urge voters to pressure their lawmakers into reaching a deal. The narrator in the ad for Cantor's district says:
If Congress doesn't act by Tuesday, America won't be able to pay all of its bills," says the narrator in the ads. "Social Security checks, veterans benefits, military pay -- all could be at risk -- because Congressman Eric Cantor and congressional Republicans want to protect tax breaks for millionaires, oil companies and corporate jets.
So if the check you, or your family, depends on doesn't arrive -- thank Congressman Cantor. Tell Congressman Cantor to stop holding the interests of ordinary Americans hostage.
WATCH THE AD FOR CANTOR'S DISTRICT:
In a recent interview with CBS, President Obama said the government sends out 70 million checks a month.
"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven't resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it," he said.
But according to the Washington Post, Obama low-balled the number of checks in that interview. The 70-million figure doesn't include "reimbursements to Medicare providers and vendors (100 million claims in June), and electronic transfers to the 21 million households receiving food stamps," the Post reported. It also doesn't include Pentagon spending on invoices and expense claims made by active and retired employees.
"Speaker Boehner and House Republicans want to bring us to the brink of financial ruin to protect tax giveaways for corporations and millionaires, while gutting programs that provide vital services for the most vulnerable among us," Mary Kay Henry, president of SEIU said in a statement.
"As we get dangerously close to defaulting on our debt, there are no more excuses for Members of Congress," she added in her statement, which was released along with the ads. "Simply put, it's time to get this done. The stakes are too high to play a partisan game of chicken that could end with disastrous results for working families, seniors, veterans and children. This is both unacceptable and indefensible."
On Sunday, Politico reported that conservative groups were significantly outspending progressive on ads framing the debt ceiling debate. The conservative ads have generally argued that President Obama and Democrats have not been doing enough to boost the economy, and they say that Democrats would rather simply raise the debt ceiling and taxes than cut the deficit.
This is the second ad campaign Americans United for Change has launched that focuses on the debt ceiling debates. Last week, the group -- joined by the SEIU -- targeted four Republican lawmakers: Cravaack and Reps. Dave Camp (Mich.), Sean Duffy (Wis.) and Richard Hanna (N.Y.).
For the past few weeks, Americans United has also been running a paid call program in 29 congressional districts in 13 states, asking supporters to call federal lawmakers and tell them to oppose a balanced budget amendment. As of Thursday, the effort had generated 30,000 calls.
The post has been updated to include the name of all three unions that participated in the ad buy.