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The whole senate Faction

The whole senate Faction closing up shop?

From the Times (emphasis added) ...

While Republicans listed changes in Social Security as their No. 1 objective, Democrats made enlarging the armed forces and providing new military benefits as their top goal, rejecting the idea that the retirement program needed urgent repair. A poll of all Democratic senators by the Democratic staff of the Senate Finance Committee found none who supported diverting Social Security tax revenue into personal investment accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's initiative.

That's wonderful. But we'd much prefer to hear it publicly. If each member of the senate Faction really has decided not to vote for the president's bill, they're only making it more likely by keeping mum.

Ahhhhhh ... an AARP

Ahhhhhh ... an AARP vs. GOP poll smack-down. Truly a delight to behold.

Let's start by stipulating that a public poll commissioned by or organized by an advocacy group should always be treated with skepticism and heightened scrutiny since, by definition, such a group has an agenda. If Cato or one of the pro-phase-out astroturf groups like 60 Plus did a poll on privatization, Social Security supporters would pick it over like crazy.

So, it's no surprise that according to this AP story, the RNC rushed out a two page memo designed to discredit the AARP poll, charging that it relied on "slanted wording, misleading questions and an unrepresentative sample of the nation as a whole."

But if you look at what their main gripe is, it turns out to be that the pollsters had the unvarnished temerity to use phrase 'private accounts' in their description of President Bush's policy.

Says the article ...

John McLaughlin, a Republican pollster, said the AARP survey was "skewed by age and skewed by politics,'' and that the repeated use of the term "private accounts'' results in a drop-off in support for Bush's proposals.

That's extraordinary, ain't it? Sort of like how public support for gay marriage just drops right down when you say it allows marriage rights for gays.

How can they expect to get good numbers when they call private accounts 'private accounts'? To paraphease Matt Yglesias from earlier today, it's hard to figure how AARP can be too far off base using the dreaded "private accounts" language when the main privatizers themselves still used it as their phrase of choice no more than three weeks ago.

For my money, I would just as soon fast-forward to June, when word will come down from the RNC with the Russert stamp of approval that the accounts formerly known as private are only fairly styled 'self-actualization and personal fulfilment accounts' and be done with it.

It sounds like Rep.

It sounds like Rep. Mike Ross (D) Arkansas is another fiscally conservative Red State Democrat (a member of the 'Blue Dog Coalition') who is strongly opposed to President Bush's Social Security phase-out plan and not afraid to say it.

Just one more Social Security Democrat.

Not only is Rep.

Not only is Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia in the Conscience Caucus, he may even be Loud and Proud in his opposition to the president's plan.

This afternoon we received a copy of a constituent letter Rep. Goode is sending out in which he says he is "negatively inclined towards these <$Ad$> private accounts and President Bush's plan."

We called up the congressman's district office to confirm and ended up speaking to the man himself. While prefacing his remarks with the standard caveats that he hasn't yet seen a specific plan, he told TPM that he was "negatively inclined toward these private accounts funded out of the Social Security tax."

I tried to draw the congressman out on whether his apparent opposition to the Bush plan was based on opposition to private accounts as such or also to the substantial additional borrowing that the president's plan would require. He paused for a moment and then said that he'd prefer to let his statement speak for itself, or words to that effect.

However, since both his cosntituent letter and his statements to TPM specifically grounded his opposition to private accounts, it seems pretty clear that that's what he's against. He apparently feels no need to hang his hat on the very real fiscal arguments in play. He's just against phasing-out Social Security.

Goode's inclination not to beat around the bush on this issue was also in evidence today in a quote he gave the local paper, News & Record. "I can’t see establishing private accounts using Social Security funds, he tells the paper. "I want the benefits to be assured for our senior citizens so they're not jerked around.”

Would that a few more Dems could put the matter so clearly. (Note that until a few years ago Goode was a Democrat.)

Sen. Patty Murray (D) of Washington, by way of contrast, is telling constituents she has "concerns about the use of individual retirement accounts ... [and] serious concerns about changing the nature of the Social Security system." Her colleague Senator Cantwell (D) of Washington is more straightforward. Near the top of her letters to constituents on this issue, she says simply: "I am opposed to privatizing Social Security."

It's possible of course that Sen. Murray's concern is so profound that it has prevented her from taking a clear position on the issue.

In our up-is-down political

In our up-is-down political world, authoring memos which for the first time put the United States government on record sanctioning torture probably can't get you nixed for Attorney General. But fibbing about your role in covering up one of the president's DUIs just might. Newsweek's Isikoff is on the case.

A few days ago

A few days ago, when I announced our new 'privatization' word hunt contest, I predicted, in jest I thought, that before this was over, the Bush camp probably would have outlawed the use of the phrase 'private accounts' too.

Well, as is so often the case with the Bush team, reality has simply outrun mockery.

Matt Yglesias has more.

As he aptly notes, "Since the term was apparently in good standing with privatization's leading advocates as little as three weeks ago, I see no reason we shouldn't keep using the term."

Will Dr. Evil put

Will Dr. Evil put in an appearance too?

The Sun-Sentinel has a piece in this morning's paper about Florida Democrats getting together to strategize on how to make a comeback in Florida politics -- a state Dems still dominated only a few years ago.

Today, Florida's only statewide Democratic officeholder is Senator Bill Nelson.

So this week a bunch of state Democratic big-wigs are getting together for a strategy session. And where are they meeting? Well, according to the Sun-Sentinel, "Nelson, [Sen. Walter "Skip"] Campbell and a few other party leaders will hold a closed-door meeting this week at U.S. Rep. Allen Boyd's North Florida farm."

Yep, Rep. Allen Boyd, the perfidious poltroon of the Fainthearted Faction, playing host to the Florida Dems comeback strategy meeting.

I guess the powers-that-be in the Florida Democratic party don't think Social Security is a good issue to get behind.

Go figure ...

Here's an idea. Sen. Nelson's been pretty good on Social Security. Maybe folks can get him to set Boyd straight during the secret powwow?

Meanwhile, is Katherine Harris already trying to sneak out of the Conscience Caucus? She just made a trip to Chile to check out how well privatization panned out there. "It's really worked well there," the smiley Republican tells the Herald Tribune.

Note to AARP: Is she playing you guys already?


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