Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Senator Olympia Snowe (R) of Maine, from this morning's Press Herald: "I don't think there's any consensus on what the problem [with Social Security] is or the extent of the problem. I have serious concerns about undermining the fundamental principles of the Social Security Trust Fund."

It looks like Rep. Gene Taylor of Mississippi really is on the way out of the Faction.

In this morning's Sun Herald, Taylor's policy director Brian Martin is quoted as saying, "Congressman Taylor doesn't support forming private accounts. Social Security is in a better financial position than anything else in the government. It actually collects more money than it spends."

We assume Rep. Taylor is still overseas (see last night's post). And we'd like to see a statement from the man himself before striking his name from the Faction roll. But it seems now like it's just a matter of time.

Steve Soto has some thoughts on countering the White House's Social Security phase-out game-plan.

Two perspectives <$NoAd$> ...

"[Social Security] has fulfilled the promise announced by President Franklin Roosevelt -– providing vital income to millions of seniors, and assuring generations of working people that their retirement years would have some decent measure of security ... a just society ensures that elderly people can grow old with dignity. For that reason our nation established the Social Security system. And that is why, after 70 years, Social Security remains a fundamental commitment of both our political parties."

Vice President Dick Cheney
Catholic University of America
January 13th, 2005

"For the first time in six decades, the Social Security battle is one we can win -- and in doing so, we can help transform the political and philosophical landscape of the country."

Peter H. Wehner
Deputy Assistant to the President
Office of Strategic Initiatives
"Some Thoughts on Social Security"
January 3rd, 2005

Two perspectives.

Why hasn't more attention been given to this passage from Paul Krugman's column from earlier this week ...

Even with the most favorable assumptions, the benefits of privatization wouldn't kick in until most of the baby boomers were long gone. For the next 45 years, privatization would cost much more money than it saved.

Advocates of privatization almost always pretend that all we have to do is borrow a bit of money up front, and then the system will become self-sustaining. The Wehner memo talks of borrowing $1 trillion to $2 trillion "to cover transition costs." Similar numbers have been widely reported in the news media.

But that's just the borrowing over the next decade. Privatization would cost an additional $3 trillion in its second decade, $5 trillion in the decade after that and another $5 trillion in the decade after that. By the time privatization started to save money, if it ever did, the federal government would have run up around $15 trillion in extra debt.

These numbers are based on a Congressional Budget Office analysis of Plan 2, which was devised by a special presidential commission in 2001 and is widely expected to be the basis for President Bush's plan.

No doubt, the work of the <$NoAd$> Bush-bashers at CBO ...

Late Update: Reps. Spratt and Hoyer are now on the case.

Is Fainthearted Faction member Rep. Gene Taylor going to follow Rep. Adam Smith out of the Faction?

I exchanged emails today with a staffer in Rep. Taylor's office. And that's the impression I got.

First, the staffer told me that for Taylor, a vote against the Filner Amendment was not a vote for privatization.

"Mr. Taylor does believe that the annual Social Security surpluses should be invested in real assets rather than Treasury IOUs that enable more deficit spending," the staffer told me, "but he does not support investment in the stock market. In fact, he was one of only two Democrats who voted against the Railroad Retirement reform bill that passed on July 31, 2001, because he did not buy the argument that the system could reduce the amounts paid in by the railroads and increase the fund assets by investing in the stock market."

(I have to confess that I was immediately out of my league when we got to talking about the Railroad Retirement reform bill. But let's just keep that between you and me.)

Apparently Rep. Taylor is overseas this week on Armed Service Committee business. But the staffer told me that Taylor's office would likely be posting a statement on their website about the president's Social Security phase-out plan in the near future.

From the San Mateo County Times: "University of California, Berkeley, law student Chris Busselle, his wife and his longtime friend didn't realize they were catching a tiger by the tail when they brainstormed ways to keep Democratic morale and activism high after President Bush was re-elected and Republican Congressional majorities widened. They decided to start a Web site, www.thinkblue2008.com, on which they would sell blue rubber bracelets — like the popular yellow "Livestrong" bands hawked by cycling champion Lance Armstrong's foundation for cancer patients — bearing the next presidential election's date and an admonition to 'Think Blue.'"

Two perspectives <$NoAd$> ...

"Young workers who elect personal accounts can expect to receive a far higher rate of return on their money than the current system could ever afford to pay them."

Vice President Dick Cheney
Catholic University of America
January 13th, 2005

"Calculations of the median voter’s return from “investing” in Social Security suggest that for a majority of voters the U.S. Social Security system provides higher ex-post, or actual, returns than alternative assets."

Vincenzo Galasso
Social Security Bulletin
(The quarterly research journal
of the Social Security Administration)
Vol. 64 • No. 2 • 2001/2002

[A note of thanks to TPM reader BK.]

Is it troubling at all that this paragraph, the third in a piece tomorrow's Post, appears to be the White House's own description of how they'll sell their Social Security <$NoAd$> phase-out plan?

The campaign will use Bush's campaign-honed techniques of mass repetition, never deviating from the script and using the politics of fear to build support -- contending that a Social Security financial crisis is imminent when even Republican figures show it is decades away.