Hillary tells the president, No Dice, when it comes to a Social Security phase-out.
In a letter the New York senator is now sending out to constituents who ask her position on Social Security, she writes "I oppose diverting money from the Social Security program to establish private accounts."
Now, don't get me wrong. I doubt there was ever much chance Hillary was going to end up on the wrong side of this issue. But an article that is running today in CQ shows why it's important, even for those like Senator Clinton, to make the point crystal clear.
Here's the beginning of the piece and then a section further down on Senator Clinton's position ...
Three prominent Democrats are making clear they will not support President Bushâs proposal to divert some Social Security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts, dealing the administration a setback as it engages in a campaign to build public support for an overhaul.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is sending letters to constituents who ask about her position on the presidentâs proposal stating: âI oppose diverting money from the Social Security program to establish private accounts.â
Advocates of the presidentâs plan had held out hope that Clinton might eventually be convinced to support creating personal accounts in Social Security. She is one of the most famous people in Congress; her national profile and popularity is such that she is considered the undeclared front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. And she has made vague statements in the past saying Social Security should be âstrengthened,â although she has not wedded herself to a solution.
Her letter should remove any doubts about her position. In it, she described the presidentâs proposal as âharmful to Americansâ if enacted and said: âI am profoundly worried about the effect this proposal would have on New Yorkers who rely on Social Security.â
The piece in CQ notes the newly-stated opposition of Clinton as well as that of Senators Kennedy and Johnson. As CQ notes, "Each of the three senators who announced their opposition to Bushâs plan this week represents unique problems for the president[, though] Clintonâs statement is probably most significant."
Hillary's opposition, they explain, means the president will have neither of the New York senators, who represent Wall Street on his side. (On the other hand, plenty of Wall Streeters commute in from Connecticut. And the president clearly thinks Fainthearted Faction member Joe Lieberman's vote is still in play.) Kennedy's opposition sets a tone of Democratic conscience and history. And Johnston's stance makes clear that a senator from a very red state -- one that just turned out a senate minority leader -- doesn't have to feel the need to run scared on an issue like Social Security.
Indeed, quite the opposite. As I think we'll see increasingly over the next few months, making a tough and unabashed defense of Social Security gives senators like Johnson a chance to show that they are standing with their constituents' values and their material interests while President Bush is attacking both. (You can see Johnson's statement from yesterday on his website here.) We'll have to wait and see if Senator Landrieu gets the word.