Not just Frist.
You have to read down to the bottom of the article in tomorrow's Times. But it seems that the White House was also able to force a recantation from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) Iowa, who yesterday suggested that the Congress should shift its focus from private accounts to solvency. Today Grassley released a statement saying: "Personal accounts are still on the table along with all the other ideas to strengthen Social Security."
That, of course, brings the number of White House-squeezed recanters to three: McCrery, Frist and Grassley, though today's reports left it unclear whether Frist and Grassley were taken to the Chamber like McCrery.
The Post tomorrow says this about the president's warning to Democrats ...
Meanwhile yesterday, Bush warned that Democratic lawmakers may suffer politically if they continue to oppose his plan without offering alternatives. Americans are beginning to agree that Social Security needs revisions to safeguard its long-term stability, he said, adding: "In my judgment, ultimately, I think politicians need to be worried about not being a part of the solution."
Paul Krugman takes a look at the president's bagman: Mr. Greenspan.
A few thoughts on where we are right now on the phase-out debate.
The president has hit a brick wall on his first attempt at beginning the phase out of Social Security. If you look at how the debate has evolved over the last six weeks and why the public is turning against the president's plan, you see that it has become increasingly clear to the public that private accounts damage Social Security.
Simple as that.
It takes money out of Social Security -- an extremely popular program -- and puts it toward creating the president's private accounts. You can't be for protecting or strengthening Social Security and also be for private accounts since the two goals are diametrically opposed, inimical to each other.
So it makes sense to call it what it is, a raid on Social Security. Not a raid on the Trust Fund as folks used to bandy about in the last decade. But snaking money out of Social Security itself.
That is still the president's preferred policy. And the public is turning against it.
So what is there to talk about as long as that is the case? The Democrats are for preserving Social Security; the president is for partially (or eventually totally) phasing it out and replacing it with private investment accounts and reduced guaranteed benefits.
The two objectives don't admit of compromise. The solution is to have a full public debate, see who the public supports, and then vote.
The president has the executive branch and both houses of Congress. He can pass what he wants if he can control his Republicans and scrape together a handful of Democrats in the senate.
But what basis could Democrats find on which to compromise as long as the president won't commit to maintaining and strengthening Social Security in its current form rather than partially phasing it out?
Going to the Bamboozlepalooza event tomorrow in either Indiana or New Jersey? We want to hear about it. Admittedly, if you're a TPM Reader going to an event probably means standing outside and protesting like most regular Americans who aren't among the phase-out elect. But let us know what you see. And if you take pictures, send us those too.
Noam Scheiber is dead right about the White House's new roundabout plans to phase out Social Security.
Read what he has to say.
There are many issues to discuss now that we've entered into a main phase of the Social Security battle -- one in particular will be to keep a close eye on Cato, Club for Growth and the rest of the money lobby to see how well they warm to the idea of the tax increases the president is now floating as a way to pay for his plan. But the first thing to do is to focus and understand where the Democrats are in this debate and what they are after, and for all of them to resolve that it really doesn't matter whether President Bush tries the front door to phase-out or the back door or whether he tries to break through the window or even just burn down the whole house. The goal is what counts. And the question is just what it is that people don't like about Social Security in its current form.
President Bush kicked off this struggle by trying to raid Social Security (not the Trust Fund, but the program itself) of a third of its funding to set up his private accounts. Having hit a brick wall with the Democrats and numerous defections from Republicans, he's now looking for a second roll of the dice. He'll now try to bargain with more options on the table, perhaps offering to phase out less of Social Security or -- and this is more likely -- extend the time over which the program is phased out.
But the goal is the same: phase-out. In that sense nothing has changed.
Important: Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah says Syrians must leave Lebanon.
The White House whips Frist into line. Majority Leader commits to a phase-out bill this year, after having said the opposite only two days ago.
CQ provides Frist's feeble denial that he was manhandled by the White House: "I havenât talked to anybody ... I said it could be a month or a year. From that, everybody was saying itâs going to be more than a year. I wanted to make it clear Iâm going to be aggressive with it and it will be coming up this year."