Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

DeNote to DeLay: We've got so much love to give. Isn't this our time?

Today ABC's The Note today gives Tom DeLay an advance exoneration and asks for an interview with the bug man.

Saith the Notesters: "And/but without a functioning House ethics committee, there is no natural forum in which Leader DeLay can clear up the legit unanswered questions about some of his conduct. And/but his unwillingness to do it in the feeding frenzy of a packed press conference seems reasonable. May we suggest an interview with The Note, Dan Allen?"

It's such a tough spot for the bug man, having all these unanswered questions swirling at a time when there's no functioning ethics committee. How could he have known that purging the ethics committee of its three non-DeLay loyalists and forcing through a re-write of the committee's rules to prevent it from issuing any more 'admonishments' of his behavior would lead to such an unhappy impasse?

They say power is the greatest aphrodisiac. And The Note's (as, for that matter, does much of Washington) got it bad.

(Perhaps we can set their moment to Dusty Springfield: "You don't have to say you love me/Just be close at hand. You don't have to stay forever/I will understand.")

You'll want to see the whole thing.

Is it the fruit of the Iraq war? The death of Arafat? The Brits think it's due to their patient lobbying through the course of the first Bush administration. Whatever the reason, the US, and that means the Bush administration, is more closely involved in peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians than it has ever been before. And for a host of reasons, there is actually some reason for hope on the ground where there has not been going back inot the last year of Bill Clinton's presidency.

At 2 PM today at the National Press Club, a new organization CALME (Campaign for American Leadership in the Middle East) is announcing an online petition drive for an open letter to the president commending his renewed attention to the issue and urging him to stay the course, to stick to it, in the face of what are certain to be setbacks in the negotiations and complications in other parts of the region.

(One might less charitably suggest the tendency of some in administration camp to get distracted by more fun ventures like invading other countries. But that's me talking, not them. They're very bipartisan.)

The event today will be emceed by former Joint Chiefs Vice Chair Joe Ralston. And on hand will be former Rep. and 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Lee Hamilton, former Secretary of State Larry Eagleburger and others. And if you go to the website you'll see that they've already compiled an impressive and very politically and religiously diverse least of signers.

The point, however, is not so much to get the bigwigs on board as to get ordinary Americans from across the country to add their voice. It's neither to bash the White House nor rally around it, but commend the recent progress and to get as many Americans as possible to make clear that settling this issue once and for all, with a two state solution, is not just a concern for Arabs and Jews, peaceniks or likudniks, or some peripheral concern, but something the great majority of Americans recognize as both the right thing to do and in America's vital national security interests.

If you'd like to add your voice, visit the site.

Amazing. Fascinating. I'm not sure what else to say, but please do it.

According to Ralph Z. Hallow of the Washington Times, there's a building movement among House conservatives to push ahead with passing a Social Security phase-out bill this year.

The thinking to this point, you'll remember, was that the House wouldn't move until the senate did. Phase-out is a much dicier proposition in the senate than it is in the House. So House Republicans did not want to make a risky vote on phase-out until they were certain the thing actually had some chance of becoming law. Otherwise, they'd run the risk of getting mauled in November 2006 for a wasted vote that Senate Republicans would likely run away from.

But now it seems a few of the ultras in the House have convinced themselves that it's actually good politics to vote on it, send it over to the senate, and if it dies there blame the Democrats.

"Some Senate conservatives privately agree with their House counterparts," writes Hallow, "that the Social Security debate has swirled out of control and that the situation is now playing into the hands of Democrats, who adamantly oppose partial privatization of Social Security. These conservatives say the only way to save the situation is for the House to pass a private-accounts bill and let the Democrats take the blame for blocking Senate passage."

This would be a smart and gutsy strategy if phase-out were popular. But since every public poll available seems to show that it's not popular at all, it's not immediately clear why letting the Democrats stop this unpopular bill in the senate would necessarily be a bad thing for them. Indeed, common sense would suggest that stopping an unpopular piece of legislation would be something they'd be happy to do.

For what it's worth, I doubt very much that it would currently be possible to get a phase-out bill through the House at all. But in purely political terms I have little doubt that the Democrats would love to see them try.

Mike Allen in Thursday's Post: "People who are working in support of DeLay's position said the next several days would be critical, as leaders wait to see whether any other House Republicans call for his resignation."

The House that DeLay built. Over at our Bankruptcy Bill blog, Jason Spitalnick reports that the House is planning to schedule a whopping 30 minutes for the Household Repossession and Foreclosure Empowerment Act of 2005 (aka the Bankruptcy Bill.)

The point is simple, the logic unassailable. Republicans say they care about Social Security but claim there won't be enough money to make good on the money (your payroll taxes) borrowed from the Social Security Administration.

Today, however, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly to abolish the inheritance tax, a tax that, by definition, only impacts people who inherit money from extremely wealthy forebearers. If passed by the senate this new legislation, which would come into effect in 2012, will cost the Treasury $745 billion dollars during its first ten years. Figure in associated interest on the added debt and the number comes closer to a trillion dollars.

That is about a trillion fewer dollars in the US Treasury over the course of the same decade in which the Social Security Trustees say the SSA will begin (2017) to start drawing on the Treasury notes in the Trust fund to cover scheduled benefits (2020, if you go by CBO estimates.)

There's no hidden complexity here. It's a zero-sum game. They say Social Security is in trouble because we don't have enough dollars to make good on the Trust Fund (which today holds roughly $1.7 trillion in Treasury notes). And here they are voting to take a trillion more dollars off the table.

In other words, they could not care less about Social Security and everything they say on the subject is a joke.

If someone tells you that at least the Republicans have a plan and the Democrats don't, laugh in their faces. The Republican agenda (the actual bills they are passing right now) is to keep weakening Social Security at every opportunity, just like they're doing today. The most constructive thing anyone can do under present circumstances to protect Social Security, the only 'plan' that isn't a joke, is to oppose the Republican agenda in Congress, to stand up and say "do no more harm."

DeLay apologizes for 'inartful' threats against federal judges. "Sometimes I get a little more passionate, and particularly during the moment, and the day that Terri Schiavo was starved to death, emotions were flowing. I probably said — I did, I didn't probably — I said something in an inartful way, and I shouldn't have said it that way, and I apologize for saying it that way."