Opinions, Context & Ideas from the TPM Editors TPM Editor's Blog

Pat Toomey declares war

Pat Toomey declares war on the Conscience Caucus!

With echoes of Milton and Paradise Lost, former Congressman and now Club for Growth President Pat Twomey has ordered television ad buys against Conscience Caucus members Sen. Lincoln Chafee, restored Caucus member Rep. Sherry Boehlert and Rep. Joe Schwarz, who we didn't even know until today was a Caucus man.

(We hadn't even had time to add Schwarz's name to the list before Twomey struck.)

Stay with these three worthies as they enter their time of troubles!

Chafee is already in CUP? status in the Caucus. He could give up the ghost entirely.

Sen. Olympia Snowe R

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) Maine risking her Loud and Proud status in the Conscience Caucus?

Last week Snowe told the Washington Post that she was "certainly not going to support diverting $2 trillion from Social Security into creating personal savings accounts" and told the president that "she would be concerned about doing anything that would undermine the guaranteed benefit of Social Security."

But today, according to RawStory.com, Snowe's press secretary Preston Hartman says: “I wouldn’t say it’s fair to say that she’s against the president’s plan.”

“She’s cautious," says Hartman, "and she wants to examine all the options out there.”

Even the Libertarians arent

Even the Libertarians aren't buying the Social Security Speech Code!

[ed.note: Ideological exactitude requires me to note that while one would expect Libertarians to be, on principle, in favor of a private-accounts-based phase-out of Social Security, they are the last folks you would expect to have any truck with a White House-dictated Social Security speech code. And in this regard, the good folks at Reason magazine's Hit and Run Blog, which we've linked above, have acquitted themselves quite nicely.]

Ohhh ... and W

Ohhh ... and W falls back 5 yards.

From CNN/Money: "Bill Gross, manager of the world's largest bond fund, is criticizing President Bush's plan to privatize part of Social Security. Gross, managing director at Pimco, called the argument about the solvency of Social Security "silly" and said it was an example of the president not focusing on more important issues, such as the budget deficit."

Montanas Great Falls Tribune

Montana's Great Falls Tribune says Bamboozlepalooza didn't convince the state's lawmakers.

But Caucus member Rep. Denny Rehberg did praise the president's "Oprah Winfrey-style" approach to working the room ...

Rehberg said he felt the president did very well in the "Oprah Winfry-style" panel discussion.

"It led to a free flow of information, and the president looked very comfortable listening to questions and explaining the future problems of Social Security," Rehberg said.

"It's a sign of the president's leadership that he doesn't want to coast in his second term, but to work to resolve an issue like Social Security that is emotional and controversial.

"He's asking the people of America to listen to different ideas for preserving and protecting Social Security, and he's open to nearly all ideas."

Rehberg did not commit himself yet to supporting the president's idea of personal Social Security investment accounts.

"I want to see all the proposals," he said. "But why not consider such personal accounts that would earn a higher return for young adults that they would own and could pass on to their kids?"

He even called them 'personal accounts'. <$NoAd$>There may be some hope for the president with Rep. Rehberg yet ...

Ginny throws down the

Ginny throws down the gauntlet!

In this news segment running on Florida's WUSF 89.7 News, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (R) says she thinks President Bush is coming to Tampa to muscle her and other Conscience Caucus members into signing on to his privatization bill.

But "absent specifics," says Brown-Waite, "I'm not drinkin' that Kool-aid. I am not gonna go down that road."

(See the quotes in question at timestamp 1:05.)

The Ginny vs. Prez showdown is tonight at the Tampa Convention Center.

Rep. Sherry Boehlert R

Rep. Sherry Boehlert (R) of New York <$NoAd$> demands readmission to the Conscience Caucus!

This morning we received the following note from the congressman ...

Enjoyed your clever and off-times amusing comments. But shame on you for taking anyone to task for talking about our "responsibility to debate all proposals from top to bottom."

My commitment is not to a specific course of action at this juncture other than to acknowledge a future problem and a determination to get going toward the development of a solution. Don't count me out yet!

We're always happy to take our dollop of shame if it means welcoming a representative or senator back into the Conscience Caucus.

We've duly updated the membership list.

Hmmm. Gov. Mike Huckabee

Hmmm. Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas doesn't think "anyone pretends [the president's Social Security plan] solves the long term issue of solvency."

Has he been to DC recently? Seems there's a lot of pretending.

Says the Gov.: "It’s trying to address methods to improve the system and broaden the base of how it is funded."