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Amazing. Fascinating. Im not

Amazing. Fascinating. I'm not sure what else to say, but please do it.

According to Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times, there's a building movement among House conservatives to push ahead with passing a Social Security phase-out bill this year.

The thinking to this point, you'll remember, was that the House wouldn't move until the senate did. Phase-out is a much dicier proposition in the senate than it is in the House. So House Republicans did not want to make a risky vote on phase-out until they were certain the thing actually had some chance of becoming law. Otherwise, they'd run the risk of getting mauled in November 2006 for a wasted vote that Senate Republicans would likely run away from.

But now it seems a few of the ultras in the House have convinced themselves that it's actually good politics to vote on it, send it over to the senate, and if it dies there blame the Democrats.

"Some Senate conservatives privately agree with their House counterparts," writes Hallow, "that the Social Security debate has swirled out of control and that the situation is now playing into the hands of Democrats, who adamantly oppose partial privatization of Social Security. These conservatives say the only way to save the situation is for the House to pass a private-accounts bill and let the Democrats take the blame for blocking Senate passage."

This would be a smart and gutsy strategy if phase-out were popular. But since every public poll available seems to show that it's not popular at all, it's not immediately clear why letting the Democrats stop this unpopular bill in the senate would necessarily be a bad thing for them. Indeed, common sense would suggest that stopping an unpopular piece of legislation would be something they'd be happy to do.

For what it's worth, I doubt very much that it would currently be possible to get a phase-out bill through the House at all. But in purely political terms I have little doubt that the Democrats would love to see them try.

Mike Allen in Thursdays

Mike Allen in Thursday's Post: "People who are working in support of DeLay's position said the next several days would be critical, as leaders wait to see whether any other House Republicans call for his resignation."

The House that DeLay

The House that DeLay built. Over at our Bankruptcy Bill blog, Jason Spitalnick reports that the House is planning to schedule a whopping 30 minutes for the Household Repossession and Foreclosure Empowerment Act of 2005 (aka the Bankruptcy Bill.)

The point is simple

The point is simple, the logic unassailable. Republicans say they care about Social Security but claim there won't be enough money to make good on the money (your payroll taxes) borrowed from the Social Security Administration.

Today, however, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to abolish the inheritance tax, a tax that, by definition, only impacts people who inherit money from extremely wealthy forebearers. If passed by the senate this new legislation, which would come into effect in 2012, will cost the Treasury $745 billion dollars during its first ten years. Figure in associated interest on the added debt and the number comes closer to a trillion dollars.

That is about a trillion fewer dollars in the US Treasury over the course of the same decade in which the Social Security Trustees say the SSA will begin (2017) to start drawing on the Treasury notes in the Trust fund to cover scheduled benefits (2020, if you go by CBO estimates.)

There's no hidden complexity here. It's a zero-sum game. They say Social Security is in trouble because we don't have enough dollars to make good on the Trust Fund (which today holds roughly $1.7 trillion in Treasury notes). And here they are voting to take a trillion more dollars off the table.

In other words, they could not care less about Social Security and everything they say on the subject is a joke.

If someone tells you that at least the Republicans have a plan and the Democrats don't, laugh in their faces. The Republican agenda (the actual bills they are passing right now) is to keep weakening Social Security at every opportunity, just like they're doing today. The most constructive thing anyone can do under present circumstances to protect Social Security, the only 'plan' that isn't a joke, is to oppose the Republican agenda in Congress, to stand up and say "do no more harm."

DeLay apologizes for inartful

DeLay apologizes for 'inartful' threats against federal judges. "Sometimes I get a little more passionate, and particularly during the moment, and the day that Terri Schiavo was starved to death, emotions were flowing. I probably said — I did, I didn't probably — I said something in an inartful way, and I shouldn't have said it that way, and I apologize for saying it that way."

A reader hits the

A reader hits the nail on the head: "Hey -- one wrinkle on this DeLay stuff. Worth exploring on TPM. Remember that, although liberals think of DeLay as a tyrannical conservative who oppresses moderates and centrists and is an #$@*&$% ...most of the GOP's centrists and moderates really like having him as majority leader and appreciate him. Why? Because he is very good at running Congress in such a way as to keep them from having to make tough votes, and thus makes it more tenable for them to remain in office under a conservative GOP prez. Remember -- they are part of his majority and part of his power. He makes an effort to protect them. So those who are weighing whether or not to speak against him have a lot on their minds."

Of course, he also gives the moderates lots of cash.

Ahh a new blog

Ahh, a new blog from the kind of Republican we at TPM can love (basically just the old-fashioned sane kind), Robert George.

He even came to my birthday party a couple months ago. But I don't want to get him in trouble with the Falange. So don't tell anybody.

Reader mail ...Josh...Being born

Reader mail ...

Josh...

Being born and living my whole life in Connecticut I have to say I am damn proud of Chris Shays. I am liberal, from the 1st district and Chris isn't my Rep. But he is the only northeastern moderate republican to have the backbone (or at least nothing else to lose) to step up and take on DeLay.

Our former Governor John Rowland has started to serve his sentence for corruption at a Federal prison in western Pennsylvania. I look at Tom DeLay and feel his transgressions were far worse then Rowland's. But Tom DeLay is neither under indictment, or in jail, and the GOP is rushing to his defense to keep him in power. The GOP seized control of the Congress in the mid 1990's. Their vow was to "clean up Washington". Fast forward 10 years and we have the majority leader misusing the FAA, he is knee deep in the Indian casino shakedown, his PAC has made 6 figure payments to family members, and threatening federal judges, just for starters. He is far more corrupt then any of the democrats who were in power in the mid 90's. In a sense I hope "The Hammer" stays in power. There will be more scrutiny on DeLay and the people who support him in Congress. And it will become apparent that he and his fellow republicans are far more corrupt and dirty then the democrats ever were. He will single handedly give the democrats the house back in 2006. Right now he represents the best tool the democrats have at their disposal...

Chris Shays is right about DeLay and I have pride that he is a politician from my state, but I hope he is unsuccessful in getting DeLay out...at least until the democrats, hopefully, fully exploit his malfeasance. JC


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