Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

I'm usually pretty leery of investing a lot in over-clever wordplay. And even this one could be easily overdone. But this suggestion from TPM reader MR caught my ear: "You're on your ownERSHIP SOCIETY."

Most of you have likely already seen this. But in case not, and especially if you have impressionable young children, you'll want to know that radical cleric James Dobson has revealed that cartoon character "SpongeBob" is a homosexual and now involved in propagandizing America's youth on behalf of his alternative lifestyle.

With a name like SpongeBob we thought sure the guy was straight. But in cases like these we're always the last to know.

Marshall Wittman (aka 'Da Moose): "The Moose observes that the eloquence of the President's address was only matched by its disconnectedness to reality ... If he were in touch with the reality of America, he would discover that the country has deep doubts about the wisdom of the war in Iraq ... He is oblivious to the notion that he speaks ever so eloquently about advancing freedom abroad while he imposes economic policies that promote plutocracy at home."

Uh-oh ... Karl Rove says private accounts are "privatization."

What will we tell the children?

[ed.note: Good catch by TPM reader SW.]

The message being sent out from SSA Commissioner Jo Ann Barnhart in response to emails questioning SSA's possible involvement in a pro-phase-out media campaign ...

"Thank you for your inquiry. There has been a lot of misinformation in the media lately and I am glad to have this opportunity to set the record straight. I have never, nor will I ever, ask or direct Social Security employees to promote or advance any specific proposal for Social Security reform. Our job at Social Security is to provide services and benefits and to educate the American public about the programs and finances of Social Security. Again, thank you for your inquiry. We look forward to continuing to serve you."

Meanwhile, in comments to PRWeek, SSA press officer Mark Lassiter says the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding. PRWeek says Lassiter told them that "the plan that's been circulated was never reviewed or approved by the agency. Rather it was posted on the website of one regional office."

Lassiter further says the that the SSA PR plan "hasn't changed in several years."

Finally, the Post's Al Kamen reports on the SSA's 'crisis, crisis, crisis!' phone messages.

Hey, didn't we report that last month?

Sen. Grassley (R) agrees with Chairman Thomas that the president's Social Security phase-out plan may be in trouble.

From the Des Moines Register ...

Grassley, in a conference call with Iowa reporters, did not criticize Thomas' comments, and said that the "difficult political issue" likely will have to be handled by the Senate first rather than the House, and then in a bipartisan fashion.

That's in contrast to other controversial ideas that the Republican-controlled Congress has been able to approve in recent years, largely along party lines, such as Medicare prescription drug legislation and tax-cut packages.

"I told the president the other day he has been successful with his agenda because he had a Republican House to push it through," Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said, referring to a recent White House meeting.

In addition, budget rules assisted lawmakers, as well as help from some Senate Democrats, Grassley said.

With Social Security, that is not possible and 60 votes - which would mean some Democratic support - will be needed for any plan to be approved in the Senate, he said.

"Understand it's got to be bipartisan and the president has got to encourage that bipartisanship," Grassley said.

Surely, Stephen Moore's going to have <$NoAd$>something to say about this, right?

I noted this earlier. But I just want to again direct everyone's attention to this website: www.thereisnocrisis.com

Whenever I scan that URL quickly I keep thinking it says something like therhinoceros.com. But, hey, that's just me.

As you can see, it's 'There Is No Crisis' spelled all as one word. And they're doing a great job collecting together all sorts of information -- the best reportage, the worst reportage and plenty of facts about Social Security and the effort to phase it out, all in one place.

George Will says, today, that there is no Social Security crisis, but proffers a new rationale: competition among fund managers.

"Voluntary personal accounts will allow competing fund managers, rather than a government monopoly on income transfers from workers to retirees, to allocate a large pool of money. This will enhance the economic dynamism conducive to an open society."

Even private-accounts-meister Newt Gingrich bagging on the crisis claim? "The combination of higher birth rates and more immigration makes the United States the healthiest of developed nations. This is not a crisis," says the former Speaker, according to Bloomberg.

Rep. Phil English (R) of Pennsylvania says Chairman Thomas "played a very important role in reminding those involved in the debate that there are number of things we can do that will improve the solvency from Social Security, quite apart from the creation of individual accounts. And he also correctly and directly made it clear that individual accounts by themselves will only marginally improve the performance of the system overall."

Private accounts will only "marginally improve" Social Security. Can we bank that quote?