A short note on Fainthearted Faction methodology.
First off, a great number of you are writing or emailing or calling your representatives and senators to express your concern or displeasure about their willingess to join with President Bush in phasing-out Social Security. And I know from direct knowledge, because I'm hearing from staff from many of those offices, that what you are doing is having a concrete, immediate and positive effect.
The following will be repetition for many of you. But let me take a moment to reiterate what gets folks in the Fainthearted Faction.
The list is not a list of people who have endorsed the president's plan. To the best of my knowledge, there is only one member of congress -- Rep. Allen Boyd of Florida's 2nd District -- who has endorsed the president's plan -- specifically, the version he is cosponsoring with Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ). The Fainthearted Faction is made up of those senators and representatives who appear most likely to go along with the president in phasing-out Social Security.
Some in the House got on the list because of their vote against the Filner Amendment in 2001 -- a proxy vote on the privatization issue. Others are on the list because of their stated willingness to consider phasing-out Social Security. And in each case they are there because, as the debate has gotten underway, they've declined to make any clear and definitive statement that they plan to oppose the president's phase-out plan.
It's not a perfect science. There's judgment involved. But we've put in a lot of effort and consulted a lot of sources, both public and private, to focus in on this group. And we think it gives a good sense of whose votes are in play.
I'm very optimistic that most of these folks will finally end up opposing the president's phase-out plan. But as I noted last night and in other posts, for saving Social Security it is far, far more important that they go on record with their opposition now then a month, or six months or a year from now. And the reason they will do that is because they hear from their constituents who tell them that their equivocation on such a vital issue is something they find unacceptable.
Believe me, it is making a big difference. And it could scarcely be more important.
Okay, enough of my preaching. Just wanted to make that all clear.