If you're a regular reader of TPM this article from the Post by Mike Allen will probably bring a smile to your face. It reports on a meeting the president held today at the White House with congressional Republicans. The agenda? Trying to stop them from <$NoAd$> bailing out on his Social Security phase-out plan.
The first graf tells the tale: "President Bush pleaded for patience yesterday from Republican lawmakers who will shape Social Security legislation, summoning them to the White House at a time when they are expressing increasing frustration about his handling of his top priority for the year."
This graf, though, may be the most revealing ...
Senators and administration officials said that during the meeting, Bush emphasized the need to act quickly after he presents his proposals, and both sides said most senators agreed that something needs to be done.
So the president has been in no rush to explain what's actually contained in his proposal, even though he announced his intention to submit his own bill within a couple days of his reelection. And yet it's very important that Congress adopt it quickly after he submits it. I guess that says something about how confident he is in selling it to the public.
Consider that whether you call it Private Accounts or Phase-Out or Personal Accounts or Privativation or even Don't Worry/Be Happy Accounts, what the president is proposing would amount to one of the most consequential pieces of legislation to pass in any of our lifetimes, no matter how old you are. And yet the crisis is apparently so pressing that Congress must pass it immediately.
Sen. John Warner
(R) of Virginia wasn't convinced. We rejoin Mike's article already in progress ...
Several Republicans expressed skepticism about the White House's hopes for swift passage. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) said Social Security legislation will take some time, "and it should -- it really should." He said he might ask the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to prepare "a definitive analysis on the history of the program, the goals of the program."
"We don't have at this point what I call an unbiased, analytical piece that the average Joe can pick up and say 'What is all this that the politicians are arguing about?' " he said.
Imagine Warner's temerity in gumming up the works by asking the GAO to do a study. What does he want to do to the phase-out plan, Daschle it?
: The rapid erosion of support for the president's Social Security phase-out plan has forced us to rewrite the by-laws for the GOP Conscience Caucus. We'll be bringing you more on this late breaking development shortly. For now, Ways and Means Chairman Bill Thomas (R) of California has been asked to return his Caucus membership card.)Late Update
: Same basic story
from the Times
: "After a meeting with President Bush on Tuesday, Republican senators said they had cautioned him that the drive to change the Social Security system was faltering because the public was not convinced that a fundamental overhaul was necessary."