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The Republican budget proposals unveiled this week kicked off weeks of legislative activity in the Capitol—and an annual Democratic fundraising festival outside of it.

Like clockwork each spring, Democratic committees and candidates jumped on the proposals to rile up potential donors with the details of the GOP's proposals, and it appears to be working. March has been a huge fundraising month for the Democratic Party over the last four years, thanks partly to an email-fueled churn of budgetary outrage that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and others use to raise money from their supporters. It's a big part of the reason why, since 2011, four of the DCCC's 13 biggest fundraising reports since 2011 came in March, which each totaling at least $9.8 million. Almost all of the rest came within weeks or months of an election.

The latest budget-related fundraising bonanza started Tuesday evening, when the DCCC sent its list an email titled, "Medicare DESTROYED." The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chimed in too as campaigns around the country dusted off their email lists for the next day.

On Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken, Rep. Julia Brownley, and congressional candidate Anthony Brown all emailed their lists with Medicare-themed appeals for money or a petition signature. (Franken titled his "March Madness.) The DCCC also cranked out another message—this time telling recipients Medicare was being "SLASHED."

March also is a big fundraising month for other reasons, including leadership's biannual push for incumbents to pay party committee dues by the end of the first quarter. On the Republican side, the National Republican Congressional Committee holds its annual fundraising dinner every March. But the Democrats' budget-related fundraising has played a bigger and bigger role each year, charging up the party's small-dollar donations.

Republicans' budgets have spawned several political targets, but none are as potent for Democratic fundraisers as proposed changes to Medicare. Since Rep. Paul Ryan started helming the GOP budget process, those proposals have included shifting people under 55 onto subsidized private health insurance plans instead of government-funded Medicare plans.

The DCCC declined to provide information about how much money its early emails brought in, but it's not difficult to tell when a fundraising appeal is working. If a group keeps reusing the same formula, it's proving lucrative. And the GOP budget formula is in use all over the place. The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a group dedicated to electing state-level legislators also got in the act Wednesday, sending out an email titled: "Obamacare. GONE."

This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.

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