Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Who got to Sherry Boehlert? Did they make him an offer he couldn't refuse?

We knew the day would come, but we can see here that the days of trials have begun for the Conscience Caucus.

Just shy of two weeks ago Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R) of New York told his constituents: "I’ve never been a gambler … I don’t want to gamble with Social Security trust fund moneys. And so I am very, very skeptical of the so-called plans to privatize. And I think a disservice is being done to a great many Americans by sort of sounding the alarm that everything’s going to hell in a hand basket and we’re going to be broke by 2018. That simply is not so."

But look at today's Poughkeepsie Journal and see what a change a few days back in DC has wrought: "Boehlert said he needs to hear more details before deciding whether to support the [President's Social Security] plan. But he praised Bush for trying to tackle the politically difficult issue."

So, now, not only is Boehlert open to supporting the president's phase-out plan, he's also praising him for trying to fool the public into thinking the program is going broke.

Perhaps some of his constituents can throw Sherry a lifeline. But for the moment we're going to have to shift him to the new Conscience Caucus "CUP" ("Caving under the pressure") status.

Kudos to the Times editorial page for Tuesday's editorial poke at the president's new Social Security speech code.

President's new Social Security speech code defied at the Times!

Robin Toner goes with "private Social Security accounts" and "private accounts," but not a 'personal account' to be seen anywhere.

She even gets freaky with "privatize" ...

Rep. Ron Kind (D) of Wisconsin filling out the paperwork to leave the Fainthearted Faction?

Yet another local Democratic party resolution against phasing out Social Security -- this time from the Groton (CT) Democratic Town Committee.

The Conscience Caucus opens up a Kentucky chapter with the arrival of freshman Rep. Geoff Davis (R).

An article in Saturday's Cincinnati Enquirer reports: "Davis has said he will not support Bush's plan to allow workers to invest a percentage of their payroll taxes into self-directed personal investment accounts."

Says spokesperson Jessica Towhey: "Geoff Davis is against private accounts. He is also for no decrease in benefits and no increase in payroll taxes."

Towhey includes the obligatory note that Davis is waiting to see the president's actual plan before making a final judgment. But from the looks of it, we see no choice but to slot Davis as Loud and Proud.

Sen. Reid says that Senate Faction is no more?

Key passages from the early afternoon update from CQ Today that has the Hill atwitter ...

Not a single Senate Democrat will support President Bush’s proposal to divert a portion of the Social Security payroll tax to personal investment accounts, Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Tuesday.

If he is right, Bush’s plan will be dead on arrival in the Senate, where a supermajority of 60 votes will be needed to overcome a filibuster by opponents. Republicans have 55 seats.


“We want to make sure that the American people understand that we’re not for benefit cuts and we’re not for privatization,” Reid said. “There’s no crisis in Social Security.”


Reid said he had private commitments from all 44 Senate Democrats that they would not support diverting payroll tax revenues into private accounts, the key facet of Bush’s plan. The Democratic staff on the Senate Finance Committee has come to the same conclusion, based on polling Democratic members and their staffs.

Some Senate Democrats, including Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska, have said publicly they are open to considering a Social Security overhaul, including personal accounts, though they have not committed themselves either way. But “add-on” personal accounts, which a number of Republicans also favor, would supplement Social Security benefits and would not draw from payroll tax revenues for financing — keeping these senators within their pledges to Reid.

When you add in the Loud and Proud <$NoAd$> Snowe and Specter, plus the almost-sure-to-defect Chafee, 50 votes in the Senate looks like a challenge in itself ...