Et Tu, Kent?
I don't want to worry you needlessly, fellow sleuths. But some senators may be smiling at your Social-Security-loving faces while plotting phase-out behind your backs.
Upsetting, I know. But be strong.
As you know, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina has been running a bipartisan phase-out book club up on the hill. And my sources tell me that the participants are ...
Baucus (D) Carper (D) Collins (R) Conrad (D) Feinstein (D) Graham (R) Grassley (R) Gregg (R) Lieberman (D) Lincoln (D) Ben Nelson (D) Bill Nelson (D)
As you can see, quite a few current and former members of the Faction grace the list. But what's always been odd about this group is that Graham has made clear that phase-out is what's on the table, albeit perhaps a more honestly-budgeted and less draconian form of it.
And yet by my count, at least five of the Dems on that list are on record against phase-out, the key point being private accounts carved-out from Social Security.
And this invites an obvious question: Just what do they have to talk about?
I'll admit that I like sitting around in a circle and shooting the breeze about the latest Social Security primer as much as the next guy. Perhaps they're even singing a little Kumbaya just to loosen things up. But if everyone's being on the level, there shouldn't be any point of compromise possible.
And yet today we hear this from Bloomberg News ...
Graham, who leads a group of Democrats and Republicans discussing Social Security and is working with the White House, said he would present a plan within the next couple of weeks that provides the outline for a compromise with Democrats.
Now, given the tone of things, it would look awfully foolish to come out with a plan that purports to be an outline for a compromise with Democrats if you didn't have even one Democrat on board. And Graham is no fool. In fact, Social Security aside as well as many other political disagreements, he's a solid senator with independence and integrity, as near as we can tell.
So who's getting ready to sign on?
Who on that list isn't being on the level?
We've even got a new designation ready for any of them who said they were out of the Faction and then did the deed: "SIB" ("Stab in the Back").
We're pretty sure Sen. Bill Nelson (D) of Florida wouldn't sign on to anything so villainous, if for no other reason than that he appears to have made a strategic decision to campaign for reelection next year on the basis of opposing phase-out.
About Baucus and Feinstein we think there's some reason to think they're on the level too -- though it's nothing we'd put money on.
But of the others, who knows?