Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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 haven’t talked to anybody ... I said it could be a month or a year. From that, everybody was saying it’s going to be more than a year. I wanted to make it clear I’m going to be aggressive with it and it will be coming up this year."

A note to pro-Social Security Oregonians: keep an eye on your senior senator. And, yes, Wyden (elected: 1/30/1996) was elected before Smith (elected: 11/05/96).

White House enlists nation's bakeries <$NoAd$> in push for Social Security phase-out!

Last Thursday the White House invited representatives of various industries to a White House meeting with Karl Rove and National Economic Council Director Allan B. Hubbard, where the two gave a pep talk and outlined strategy for phasing out Social Security.

At the meeting was a representative of the Independent Bakers Association, who sent the following release to Association members providing an account of the meeting and explaining the bakers' role in the battle for phase-out ...

Contact: Jan Cornelius
Tel 202.xxx.xxxx
[ed.note: number removed by editor]

February 24, 2005


Today, IBA staff attended a White House briefing addressing President George W. Bush's ambitious plan to overhaul the Social Security system. The Honorable Karl Rove, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the President and the Honorable Al Hubbard, Assistant to the President and Director of the National Economic Council gave the briefing.

Karl Rove stressed the importance of Social Security reform on the President's domestic agenda. He said that the President felt in his soul that Social Security reform is vital for the future of the United States. He stressed the now well known fact that in the 1930s, when the program began, 16 people paid into the system to support one retiree, now 3.3 people support one retiree. The trend of more people paying into the system for each retiree will soon lead the nation into bankruptcy. Rove reported that the President wanted to solve the problem, not with half measures, but permanently, without raising payroll taxes.

Karl went on to say that the President will commit all his resources to fighting this issue. The President already visited nine states in his effort to bring about Social Security reform and he will remain on the road to spread the message. The President knows he will get opposition for the trade unions and left wingers. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is still on the fence and supports some measures but not others. The President is willing to fight his opponents in this regard, including the AARP if they decide to oppose him.

Finally, Mr. Rove appealed to IBA to help educate the public about the challenges facing Social Security.

Al Hubbard, director of the National Economic Council, reiterated the Administration's position on Social Security reform by saying we are totally committed. He likened the President's enthusiasm for the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts to his position on saving Social Security. The Administration is worried about Social Security because the cost of doing nothing is immense. According to the government's research, the system will go from this year's surplus of $5.9 billion to no surplus in 2018 to a -$200 billion deficit in 2027! Al noted that the President could easily not tackle the Social Security issue, after all the system will only go into deficit in 2018. However, the President is dedicated to 'tackling the big problems facing America. Most Presidents wouldn't deal with such a contentious issue.

The Administration will try to fix the problem in three ways. One, inform the nation about the magnitude of the problem. Two, lobby Congress to get behind the plan. Three, stay open minded to solutions. The President realizes that Social Security reform is a difficult task and he is encouraging lawmakers for both sides of the aisle to work to come up with lasting solutions to this problem. Possible solutions include personal retirement accounts, however, higher taxes are not a solution.

The Administration will stick to three principals through the reform process. One, create a permanent fix to the problem. Two, no benefit changes for those born before 1950. Three, no payroll tax increases.

Mr. Hubbard reports that Social Security reform is the most important problem facing the nation. It affects all businesses and everyone's back pocket. He closed his prepared remarks by saying that the President is taking on this task because it is the right thing to do for America. The President does not view this as a political fight as many on the left do.

In a question and answer session Mr. Hubbard addressed the apparent wedge between the President and Republican lawmakers on this issue. He said that all Republicans he talked to support reforming Social Security and he downplayed reports to the contrary in the leftist media. As far as a timeline goes, the President began pushing for reform at the State of the Union Address and will continue his pressure on Congress to get bills out of each House by August. After Social Security reform the Administration is committed to reforming Medicare and Medicaid and tax reform.

More reporting soon on the dark underbelly of Bamboozlepalooza ...

Rep. Bob Ney (R) of Ohio signs in to the Conscience Caucus: "The White House has got to get off the table any talk about changing benefits. As long as that discussion is out there, this thing is going to sink faster than the Titanic. And anybody that thinks it’s not is just full of themselves.”

If this is the law, then the law is an ass.

I'd like hear some more voices about the issues involved in this potential regulation and whether what FEC Commissioner Bradley Smith predicts is likely to come about. But if it's as he says, it really would mean the end of what this site and so many others on the right and left do.

Acceptable rhetoric?

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, author of our current national deficits, attacked state Dems, saying they had "car-bombed" legislation he wanted to pass.

Says the Indianapolis Star: "These include the Colts stadium financing proposal and Daniels' plan to create a special prosecutor in state government who would work mostly in secret and report to him."

This article in tomorrow's Star-Tribune has a nice summary of the batch of new Social Security polls out on Wednesday, including this one in the Times and this one from Pew.

Much of the data is in line with the recent CNN/USAToday poll.

But this number stands out: Pew found that President Bush's approval rating on Social Security stands at 29%.

Et tu, DMN?

The Dallas Morning News on phase-out: "President Bush hasn't proposed a complete and specific Social Security overhaul plan, yet there are signs his efforts are already on life support ... And the longer the debate takes, the closer Mr. Bush is to becoming a lame duck."