Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Okay, a walk down TPM's memory lane. <$NoAd$>Back in 2002 we brought you the NRCC (the GOP's House campaign committee) internal memo instructing candidates how to bully reporters out of using the term 'privatization' to describe their Social Security proposal --- this notwithstanding the fact that this was the word they themselves chose to describe their plan and never had a problem with until their pollsters told them to drop it.

The memo also gave general guidelines on how to run away from their support for President Bush's phase-out plan.

Some highlights ...

Democrat attempt to label GOP position on Social Security as favoring "privatization" presents serious threat. GOP, Members, and candidates must fight back against this label.


AARP is a dangerous adversary in this debate. They have greater credibility than any entity on this issue and are not viewed as partisan.


Candidate must focus on messages that reassure voters/seniors that they will not cut benefits and that nothing will change with their Social Security.

With the debate heating up, we thought it was time to revisit these old favorites. Here's the full memo (27 pages) and the highlights (4 pages) from the TPM Document Collection.

As you've likely heard the president's rich friends are giving tons of cash for a big inaugural shindig, notwithstanding the fact that we're supposed to be at war. But look at this lede on the front page of today's Post ...

D.C. officials said yesterday that the Bush administration is refusing to reimburse the District for most of the costs associated with next week's inauguration, breaking with precedent and forcing the city to divert $11.9 million from homeland security projects.

Federal officials have told the District that it should cover the expenses by using some of the $240 million in federal homeland security grants it has received in the past three years -- money awarded to the city because it is among the places at highest risk of a terrorist attack.

It is supremely fitting that the celebration of a victory won by politicizing and hyping homeland security and terrorism ends up with this sort of <$NoAd$>funding problem.

It's still going to take us a bit longer to get our Social Security database up and running. So for now we've added this little box you see there on the right with links to the most up-to-date lists of the Fainthearted Faction as well as the Republicans' rapidly growing Conscience Caucus.

Look at this piece in tomorrow's Post on Republican resistance to the president's Social Security phase-out bill. The spark to the piece is Rep. Rob Simmons, a Republican from a pretty competitive district in eastern Connecticut, who says flat out that he's not going to vote for the president's bill.

More revealing is the fact that Republicans themselves, according to the Post, estimate that between 15 and 40 members of their House caucus agree with Simmons. And note Bill Kristol's also sounding a note of opposition, both on the politics and even the substance of the president's plan.

As several other blogs have already done, I really recommend reading this piece in the New Republic about how the laws that are meant to protect the right to organize in this country are increasingly going unenforced or feebly enforced and how that is having ill effects throughout our society and economy.

From the Post: "Rep. [Rob]Simmons [of Connecticut] said there is no way he will support Bush's idea of allowing younger Americans to divert some of their payroll taxes into private accounts, especially when there are more pressing needs, such as shoring up Medicare and providing armor to U.S. troops in Iraq."

It sounds like President Bush doesn't have Rep. Simmons' vote. Add him to the list.

Just a quick update on our Social Security 'where do they stand' database. We had an unforeseen delay on the tech end of the operation. But now we're back underway and we should have the database up and online in the not-too-distant future. For those of you who've written in and offered to volunteer your time, we'll be in touch with you shortly.

As you can imagine, nothing <$Ad$>brings tears of joy to the TPM family more than striking a representative or senator from the rolls of the Fainthearted Faction. In fact, I'm tempted to say talk amongst yourselves, while I take a moment. But I'll press on.

As we said earlier, Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia is out of the Fainthearted Faction. And out with a bang, it turns out.

You can read the constituent letter he's now sending out here (the key passage is on page two).

But the key passage is this one (emphasis in the original) ...

Information to date suggests that the reform proposal supported by the President would finace ISA's [i.e., private accounts] by diverting a portion of the payroll taxes now paid into Social Security. I will oppose any such plan and encourage my colleagues to do the same.

If you have a moment, read the letter itself. It provides a detailed discussion of the policy issues involved, and in one passage even a rather stirring description of what Social Security is and why it's so important.

And if you're one of Rep. Moran's constituents and you think the battle to defend Social Security from the president's phase-out plan is an important one, maybe drop him a line and tell him you appreciate his stand.

Jim Moran out of the Faction? Seems so. More soon.

Say it ain't so! Sen. Landrieu in the Faction. "I’m not saying absolutely, positively ‘no’ to private accounts," she told CQ last <$NoAd$> week.

Could Hillary be next?

The same article says the following ...

Advocates for personal accounts see a small possibility of winning the support of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. Her husband studied the idea while president and has since made public statements suggesting he supports the principle. Sen. Clinton has not publicly wedded herself to either side of the debate. Her office did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

I think that misstates President Clinton's post-presidency statements on Social Security. But however that may be, Hillary hasn't made up her mind? No comment?

Late Update: The email Sen. Clinton is sending out to constituents does seem to suggest she'll oppose the president's phase-out plan. And, myself, I'd be stunned if she ended up voting with the president. But CQ still has her down as a possible.