Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Terence Hunt of AP: a 'personal' accounts man.

Not so, David Espo: He's stickin' with 'private' accounts.

Late Update: My bad. Not sure how I didn't see this on first inspection, but it turns out Espo's switch-hitting, mixing his 'personal' accounts with his 'private' ones, and actually leaning toward the former.

Never too Late to Update Update: Okay, now things are really getting fishy. TPM Reader PF just sent in this note: "In your linked column, Espo does not use 'private accounts' at all. The article appears to have been posted at 4:31 pm EST, 45 minutes after your post. Did you see a different version of his article? Is this evidence of retroactive deprivatizing?" And by golly, he's right! I just checked and this time 'private accounts' doesn't appear once. So, yes, over the course of the day the phrase 'private accounts' would appear to be swirling down the memory hole before our very eyes. I suspect now that my first reading wasn't wrong either. It must have gone from 'private' accounts, to both, to now just 'personal'.

A note from TPM reader Paul Krugman ...

Today's WSJ lead editorial is a classic. It's titled "All you need to know", and shows the CBO projection of declining deficits and stable debt. What they either don't know or believe readers don't know is that this is the *baseline* projection, which assumes that the sunset clauses in the tax cuts actually go into effect, with the whole thing expiring at the end of 2010 (which is halfway through fiscal 2011, in their chart.) It also assumes that nothing is done to reform the alternative minimum tax, which amounts to a stealth tax increase. So what they've proved is that the tax cuts are affordable as long as they go away ...

I say that man deserves a Special Edition Privatize This! TPM T-Shirt!

Another senate Republican checking out the upholstery in the Conscience Caucus cloakroom?

From today's CQ ...

A second moderate Republican on the Finance Committee, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, would not commit to supporting Bush’s plan, and added that the administration has not marketed it well.


"I’m philosophically open to [Bush’s plan]; I’m not signed up to it,” Smith said.

Both Snowe and Smith said they like the idea of “add-on” Social Security personal accounts funded from a source other than Social Security’s payroll tax revenue.


"A lot of us expressed that the White House started the debate, but the media and the other side are finishing the debate,” Smith said. “He needs to go back on offense.”

Sen. Smith: If you can protect me, you have my vote. <$NoAd$>Otherwise, I'm in the Caucus. I may even get a TPM T-Shirt out of it.

Oh boy ... If at first you don't succeed, etc.

According to a July 28th, 2000 article in USA Today, back in 1978 when President Bush was running for congress in Texas, "he predicted Social Security would go broke in 10 years and said the system should give people 'the chance to invest money the way they feel' is best."

1978 is in the pre-nexis era. So it's difficult to find coverage from the time if you're not on the scene. But presumably there are some local papers accessible on microfilm down in Texas that would shed more light on George W.: The Early Phase-Out Years.

(TPM's got a pretty sizable Texas readership. Anyone have a few hours free? A Special Edition Privatize This! TPM T-Shirt and a mug for any contemporary articles on President Bush's first Social Security scare campaign.)

Jill Lawrence has the byline for the piece. Let's ask her.

[ed.note: Credit to the folks at Center for American Progress for the find.]

Late Update: Here's a bit more information on The Early Phase-Out Years from a 1999 article in The Texas Observer ...

According to Gary Ott, who was then a reporter for the Plainview Daily Herald, Bush stopped by the paper’s little office "maybe five or six times. He’d sit down at my desk; he was a fun guy. He was very outgoing, very friendly, and we would argue politics since I was a liberal. We’d argue over Carter policies." Bush criticized energy policy, federal land use policy, subsidized housing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("a misuse of power," he said), and he warned that Social Security would go bust in ten years unless people were given a chance to invest the money themselves. None of this really distinguished him from Hance, though, so in the end Bush simply argued that a Republican could better represent the district: "If you want a chance in the way Congress has been run, send someone who will be independent from those who will run the Congress."

So where are the microfilms of the Plainview Daily Herald?

TPM reader NB reports in from the field on <$NoAd$>the semantic chaos that has the Grey Lady spinning in circles ...

"Bush Finds a Backer in Moynihan, Who's Not Talking"

"Senators Urge Bush to Sell Overhaul of Social Security"


It appears a semantics battle is being waged at The NYTimes...the above links from today's paper indicate inner (dare we say personal) turmoil. Richard Stevenson comes out of the gate strong, using "private investment accounts" in the first sentence. He loses his footing, however in the third graph and writes of "ways of establishing personal accounts..." and repeats this in paragraph five. Stevenson comes roaring back near the end, reverting to "private investment accounts" (albeit in reference to Moynihan's plan which may have used that term specifically).

In the second article "private" is used four times and "personal" once.

Heated editorial arguments involved here, a transitional phase between "private" and "personal"? Or just a case of writers not needing a thesaurus now that Bush's PR hacks have given them an alternative...

cheers, NB Atlanta

[ed.note: We've just awarded NB a Special Edition Privatize This! TPM T-Shirt for conspicuous gallantry in the battle to save Social Security, service on the Orwell front.]

[Late Update: With his permission, we are happy to announce that NB is none other than Neal Broffman of Atlanta.]

Another article on the president's pitch to black leaders at the White House on Tuesday: You die so young, you're not getting a good deal from Social Security.

Since the president now seems inclined to bang on this patently dishonest argument, it's probably time for someone to pipe up and explain that the study the president is relying on has already been discredited by studies by the Social Security Administration and what was then still called the Government Accounting Office for errors so elementary that they were almost certainly intentional.

Some, though not all of those errors, are explained in this recent editorial from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.