Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Lieberman promoted to Dean of Senate Faction!

Tells reporters America needs more faint hearts so we can all be friends!

(Okay, he didn't say that. But he has been promoted to Senate Dean.)

More to follow ...

Rep. Aderholt (R) of Alabama a possible Caucus man?

Some interesting comments from the article: Aderholt "has yet to see much mail from constituents about it. He figures they're waiting to see the details. Most of the comments so far are coming from activist groups on both sides of the issue, he noted."

"There's not a lot of details of the president's plan out there. We certainly want to hear from our constituents. I've not committed to the president or the leadership what I would do." Later he says Social Security is meant to be a safety net. "If we take that away, it's defeating the purpose of Social Security. So many Americans today depend on Social Security as a major part of their income."

Here's the comments Aderholt made after coming back from a visit to the White House to hear the president's pitch on Social Security on February 9th.

If Aderholt does eventually join the Conscience Caucus, he'd join fellow Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers (R), who came in back on the 6th of February.

I'm curious whether Aderholt has really gotten as little feedback on phase-out as he claims. It's quite unpopular in the state. Even Sen. Richard Shelby (R) has made a series of skeptical statements about the president's plan.

Of the state's other House Republicans, Rep. Spencer Bachus seems most, as the Tuscaloosa News puts it, "in lockstep" with the Bush plan. A constituent letter we've seen marks Rep. Terry Everett as basically a phase-out man. And Rep. Jo Bonner (R) remains on the fence.

In this article on Rep. Chris Chocola's Social Security meetings in his district this week, the author says Chocola (R) of Indiana starts by telling constituents he is there "to ask for ideas from his constituency about how to fix the Social Security situation." But as the article goes on to show, he then stands before the audience and shoots down everything his constituents suggest beside private accounts.

In this article from the South Bend Tribune, Chocola claims he has never been an advocate of privatization -- despite the fact that he is on record supporting privatization.

Actually, this one is really a doozy since the paper says that Democrats have "targeted Chocola, criticizing him for allegedly stating in the past that he would like to see the entire Social Security system privatized." Just why the 'allegedly' is in there is a bit hard to figure since the same paper on November 1st, 2000 quoted Chocola saying: "Bush's plan of individual investment of 2 percent of the money is a start. Eventually, I'd like to see the entire system privatized."

A July 25th 2002 article in the Tribune explains that Chocola has since tried to dismiss the quote by arguing that "he was 'conceptualizing' during the discussion with the Truth editorial board and did not then or ever call for privatizing the entire Social Security system." Here Chocola seems to have been trying to devise his own Social Security speech code in which saying "I'd like to see the entire system privatized" does not count as "call[ing] for" or "endorsing" complete privatization.

In any case, as you can see, Chocola is quite a piece o' work. And today he claims to have staked out the rather less controversial position of being an "an advocate for addressing the issue, getting all possible solutions on the table and getting beyond politics."

From what we can tell from recent reports from the district and from Chocola's tough stand as a proponent of "addressing the issue" his efforts to sell his constituents on phase-out isn't going that well. And we would be remiss if we didn't mention that the Chocola has never quite been a rock star at the polls. In 2002, he got in with a clean 50% of the vote (a Libertarian candidate pulled 4%). In 2004, he expanded his margin to a 54%. Not the end of the world but certainly not out of the woods either. For all of these reasons we were surprised and delighted to hear that President Bush has decided to come to town next Friday and give a speech on the glories of phase-out at Notre Dame, which is in Chocola's district.

So two points to watch over the next week. Will Chocola admit that he said "he would like to see the entire Social Security system privatized" and that he, presumably, wasn't in a trance when he said it? And will President Bush's trip get Chocola to come up with some clearer position than his current one of "addressing the issue, getting all possible solutions on the table and getting beyond politics."

(ed.note: One more thing. Chocola's original comment about wanting "to see the entire Social Security system privatized" came in a visit with the editors of the Elkhart Truth, a local paper. Yet the Truth isn't in Nexis (yeah, I'm chuckled too). Now, I assume someone from around there can get hold of a copy of the original paper version of the article or a copy of it on microfilm. What I'd like to get is a scanned copy of the original article, preferably a relatively clean one so the text is easily legible. A 'Privatize This' T-Shirt for the first TPM Reader who can get it scanned and send it on in to TPM world headquarters.)

Let's be frank. Has anyone seen an article from anywhere in the country in which a Republican representative or senator has held a public meeting pushing Social Security privatization and not been greeted by an audience that appears either decidedly or overwhelmingly opposed? Most of the articles make some attempt to say that people could be found endorsing a variety of positions -- some favoring the president's plan, some not. But, again, I want to see how many articles there are in which it appears that the overall response to privatization was positive. I'm eager to see one.

Do people laugh in Treasury Secretary <$NoAd$>John Snow's face when he says stuff like this ...

Snow said there are also economic benefits to the proposed changes. Businesses would not have to compete with the government to borrow money that might be needed to cover a Social Security deficit, there will be an infusion of investments to fund business expansion and job creation and payroll taxes wouldn't be raised.

Admittedly, Snow is not one of the more esteemed Treasury Secretaries in recent decades. But really, phase-out is going to lead to less government borrowing and free up capital for business expansion?

What about the three or four trillion dollars phase-out will cost over the next two or three decades? Even if you take the view that the government is going to borrow that money and then touch it to the heads of individual workers before compelling them to invest it in one of three or four government-administered low-risk investment funds, that hardly seems like a model for letting that capital find its most productive outlets.

Presumably, Snow is talking about that late 21st century Elysium in which everything comes out great in the end and all the debt just melts away.

Treasury Secretary John Snow endorses big benefit cuts. Here's his line from Tampa today. "If you are 20 or 30, the system cannot deliver those benefits, it can't afford them. In other words, it can't deliver on the promise."

It's a policy decision whether we choose whether or not to phase out Social Security. Snow is saying it's not in our power to keep Social Security intact for those retiring in 30 or 40 years. Not true. We can make changes that will keep the program solvent through all through those people's retirement. Indeed, it is possible that it will continue on through their retirement even if no changes are made.

Snow is saying phase-out is inevitable so he can duck responsibility for conceding that it is the policy he prefers.

I was starting to wonder when someone was going to start pressing this point. It seems like half the high-profile Republican Social Security townhalls we cover ends up having Deputy Social Security Commissioner James B. Lockhart III there to preach the phase-out gospel. The Times has a piece on it Friday.

We're always on the look-out for companies making shrewd investments and acquisitions. So today we were interested to see the latest news about Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo and their on-going effort to purchase the PC division of IBM.

A couple months ago Lenovo and IBM agreed to the purchase. But, as you might imagine, US regulators have serious concerns about the potential for industrial espionage (and, I would assume, good old-fashioned espionage espionage too) given that IBM is one of the leading US computer manufacturers, as well as a center of high-tech research.

According to today's report from Bloomberg, US regulators still aren't satisfied that IBM and Lenovo have dealt with the national security concerns surrounding the deal and have yet to sign off on it.

Now, I had actually heard a while back that Lenovo's stock had gone up on the first news of the regulatory hold-up because the IBM PC division's profit margins are so thin and investors question whether Lenovo should be buying the thing in the first place.

So what's the shrewd acquisition?

Well, I don't know about Lenovo. But IBM knows what's up. They just went out and bought Bruce Mehlman to grease the wheels of the federal bureaucracy and get the deal done. And that's quite an acquisition since Bruce is the brother of Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee and Chairman of President Bush's successful reelection campaign.

In other words, Bruce's brother is arguably the man most responsible for the president's reelection after Karl Rove. So I figure he gets his calls returned and doors get opened, maybe even export restrictions.

All I can think to say is: Brad Card, stay by your phone.

O'Neill Marketing Company has now posted a note about their current relationship (or rather, lack of a current relationship) with USANext. Since we've discussed this at some length, I've posted the relevant portions here ...

As a result of the recent press coverage of United Seniors Association, (now USANext) and the ensuing questions, we thought it might be helpful to clarify and answer the following:

1. O’Neill Marketing Company, (OMC) has no relationship with USANext, does not provide list-marketing services to them and has not done so for many months.

2. OMC was partnered in 1999 with United Seniors Association, but I acquired full ownership, buying out their interest in 2002 and severed the partnership.

3. OMC was a sublessor in suite 450A, 3900 Jermantown Rd. until October 2004 when we moved to suite #300, an Executive Suite. Any remnant phrases referencing the earlier occupied suite, 450A, was simply oversight we have corrected on our site.

More to <$NoAd$> come.