Heck of a vote

Rep. Joe Heck was one of only 10 House Republicans to vote against the Paul Ryan budget this week, saying the budget hurts Nevada, citing the changing Obamacare landscape and fretting about public lands money.

The problem with those explanations is that none really hold up under scrutiny and are dwarfed by the congressman's political concerns in a swing district and bluer and bluer state.

Heck's rationale, through his spokesman, is in this story.

Let's take a look:

►Heck's statement explaining his vote:

There is a dire need for us to reduce spending, address the major drivers of our debt, and grow the economy by balancing the budget. I have voted to reduce spending, I have voted to repeal and replace Obamacare, and I have co-sponsored and voted for a Balanced Budget Amendment. But the policy proposals contained in this non-binding resolution indicate the priorities of this budget, and when those proposals disproportionately affect our state, my vote indicates my priority and that priority is Nevada.”

Maybe. But the priorities are the same as Ryan budgets he has previously supported. But I do love the "nonbinding resolution" aspect, as if to scream: "Really, this doesn't mean much anyhow!"

►Heck spokesman Greg Lemon cited the attempt to pilfer Southern Nevada Public Lands Management money in the Ryan budget, too, which I detailed here. But here is the language from a previous Ryan budget:

Revise and Reauthorize the Bureau of Land Management's Land Sales Process. Instead of requiring that all proceeds from land sales be used to acquire other parcels of land and to cover sales expenses, this option would direct that 70 percent of the proceeds, net of expenses, go to the Treasury for the purposes of deficit reduction by reauthorizing and revising the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act and other land management statutes. It would limit the Department of the Interior's share of the receipts to $60 million per year (plus an additional amount to cover BLM's administrative costs) for land acquisition and restoration projects on BLM lands. The option would also reduce the amount of Federal spending not subject to regular oversight through the congressional appropriation process. The change would reduce the Federal budget deficit and ensure that U.S. taxpayers benefit directly from land sales.

Hmmm. Almost word for word....

►Also from the RJ story:

Heck also was troubled the budget called for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act health care reform without an apparent path to an alternative, Lemon said.

“He was concerned there was no replacement mechanism for the health care law,” Lemon said. “He has always been a ‘repeal, repair and replace’ guy, and this was just repeal.”

Lemon expanded on that for me: "As opposed to previous budgets where repealing and then replacing Obamacare prior to its implementation was a legitimate possibility due to the upcoming Presidential election, this budget simply assumes a full repeal of the law and applies those savings to deficit reduction. With the current composition of the Congress and White House, that is an invalid assumption. It is a flawed law, but it is the law of the land and any budget should reflect that reality. Congressman Heck continues to favor a repeal and replace approach."

This is the best of the three spins, but Heck will not be let off the hook for his past Ryan budget votes. Democrats made that clear Thursday.

I still think Heck has to be considered a slight favorite for re-election every time he runs, despite the tightness of his district's registration numbers. He is a tireless worker and knows the issues inside and out. But the Democrats clearly see his seat as a prime target in 2014 -- they go after him almost daily, and it's still close to 600 days until the election. And I see this vote as just another example of a Reublican awakening and reacting to the new Nevada -- and U.S. -- realities in the post-2012 election world.