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Rep. Kevin Brady R

Rep. Kevin Brady (R) of Texas gets an earful in the district: "His two trips in Montgomery County Tuesday encountered many people who aren't in favor of significantly altering the program, especially when it comes to diverting a portion of the current payroll taxes into private accounts."

To his credit, Brady is one of the ones who's actually holding public meetings on Social Security this week. Here's where they're being held.

Says Brady, at the end of the article: "I think there will have to be some sort of compromise. That's why I'm traveling around listening to everyone's plan. Sometimes you have to do what's right even if it's not popular ... I want to hear the president's plan, I want to hear the AARP plan, I want to hear the Democrats' plan. We'll probably all have to get off the cable TV stations for five minutes and talk to each other to work it out."

Can't we all just get along?

AP U.S. stocks sank

AP: "U.S. stocks sank on Tuesday as oil prices jumped above $51 a barrel and the dollar slid on concerns that other central banks would follow South Korea's lead in diversifying reserves out of U.S. assets."

Someone tell me this isn't as worrisome as it looks.

Silly me ... Recently

Silly me ...

Recently, I've been referring to James Dobson again as a notorious SpongeBob-basher. But it's now been brought to my attention that there is a subculture of SpongeBob-Dobson-smackdown enthusiasts who are keen on the point that Dobson never directly accused Spongebob of being a homosexual but rather accused him of promoting the gay lifestyle.

I went back through the TPM search engine and found that in my initial post on Dobson's SpongeBob fetish that I did perhaps erroneously claim that Dobson had accused SpongeBob of engaging in homosexual acts.

However, as near as I can tell, we don't know the totality of Dobson's accusations against Spongebob at the black-tie Focus on the Family dinner in Washington last month, the one subsequently reported on by The New York Times.

I would also note that at Spongebob's subsequent meeting with the Rev. John H. Thomas, the general minister and president of the United Church of Christ, Thomas extended "an unequivocal welcome to SpongeBob" noting that "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we."

Given the context of the meeting, this would suggest that Spongebob may in fact be gay. And thus even if Dobson didn't level the accusation directly, he may have been trying to bash SpongeBob through indirect accusations. And I for one am not going to stand by while the likes of James Dobson bashes SpongeBob and then hides behind the claim that he was only criticizing him for standing up for gay rights.

In any case, before speculating on this matter further we'll wait to receive a full transcript of Dobson's remarks at said black tie dinner.

The question is out

The question is out there: which Senate Dem might be ready to cut a deal with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina on Social Security?

Pretty much all of them have issued strong statements which appear to place them in opposition.

But entertain this hypothetical.

What if current payroll tax revenues are left in place for now and private accounts are funded in whole or in part from new payroll tax revenues generated by raising or even lifting the payroll tax cap? Even in the medium-term it makes little difference which slice of the payroll tax pie phase-out begins with, for reasons we'll describe. But such a maneuver could allow some straying Dem to argue that what they were signing on to was not in fact a carve-out.

I would judge any Senate Democrats' pledge with this hypothetical -- let's call it the 'Graham hypothetical' -- in mind.

And let's also ask this question: Why the deep-seated urge to cut a deal when support for phase-out is fading, the president is stumbling and we may be on course toward a national consensus and reaffirmation in favor of preserving Social Security rather than going down the incremental phase-out road?

Once that happens, once the door is closed on phase-out, it will then be possible to make sensible changes to ensure the long-term solvency of the program. But there's really no sense in looking for points of compromise with folks whose aim is phase-out.

If the patient is on the table, do you open him up when Kevorkian is still in the room?

Colorado Springs may be

Colorado Springs may be home of Spongebob-bashing James Dobson's world headquarters. But they've got Democrats there too. And they've just passed this resolution against phasing out Social Security.

Oh imagine that. USANext

Oh, imagine that. USANext has pulled its AARP hates the troops and loves gay marriage ad. Well, needless to say we got plenty o' copies -- not just the ad but the ad as seen on the American Spectator website. I'll try to post in some convenient format later today.

In case you're a journo who's writing about this and can't find the goods anywhere else, drop me a line and we'll be happy to hook you up.

Leave it to a

Leave it to a goof like Sen. Norm Coleman (R) of Minnesota not only to use the GOP 'privatization' playbook but to describe it on the record.

Explaining how he dealt with criticism that he supported privatization: "I countered it by being very clear that I supported personal accounts and opposed privatization."

Will someone ask Coleman to name any group or individual who supports 'privatization' as he defines it?

Please?

GOP front groups like

GOP front groups like USANext (the folks now working to uncover the AARP-homosexual world conspiracy) usually change their names every couple years or hive off other outfits just to keep everyone guessing. So USANext is actually part of the United Seniors Association, or as they put it: "USA United Generations and USA NEXT are grassroots projects of United Seniors Association (USA) which is celebrating its 13th anniversary as the non-partisan, 1.5 million-plus nationwide grassroots network Uniting the Generations for America’s Future."

They share the same website now. So really it's all the same outfit.

In any case, despite claiming this vast membership, this article from last year in The Washington Monthtly makes clear that United Seniors Association is basically a slush fund through which pharmaceutical companies make huge donations to the Republican party.

Says the article ...

Then there's the benignly-named United Seniors Association (USA), which serves as a soft-money slush fund for a single GOP-friendly industry: pharmaceuticals. USA claims a nationwide network of more than one million activists, but, just like Progress for America, listed zero income from membership dues in its most recent available tax return. USA does, however, have plenty of money on its hands. During the 2002 elections, with an "unrestricted educational grant" from the drug industry burning a hole in its pocket, the group spent roughly $14 million--the lion's share of its budget--on ads defending Republican members of Congress for their votes on a Medicare prescription-drug bill.


You can pick up the story on the United Seniors money mill from this July 2003 consumer bulletin from, of all places, the dreaded AARP.

One thing we learn from the AARP bulletin is that they apparently picked up USANext chief Charlie Jarvis from that notorious Spongebob-basher radical cleric James Dobson. Before he got the USANext gig, Jarvis was an executive vice president of Dobson's group Focus on the Family. And in the interests of bringing you all the information, it seems that it is not 100% accurate to say that USANext is a slush fund purely for the drug industry, seeing as how Jarvis was willing to bring the group out in favor of the rights of seniors to drill in ANWR after an Anchorage-based company called Arctic Power cut a check for $181,000. And if all that weren't enough, it seems that as of the summer of 2003 the Social Security Administration itself had secured a 'cease and desist' order against Jarvis's group for sending out mailings that "mislead the public into believing the mail is officially sent or approved by the Social Security Administration."

Charlie Jarvis, quite a piece a' work.

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