Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

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.


Sen. Wayne Allard of Colorado has an interesting approach to the Social Security and the Trust Fund.

He says that the US government will simply go into default and never <$NoAd$> pay the money back.

You'd think that would make some news.

From today's Greeley Tribune ...

"I believe we have a problem with Social Security that will emerge in 2018," he said. "At that point in time, Social Security pay out will be more than what is in the fund put in by working people or employers."

Allard said there are no reserves in Social Security because what is there is automatically transferred into the general fund, leaving a debt of $28 trillion. But he doesn't believe the money will ever be repaid to the fund.

"The money is spent," he said. "I don't believe in my own opinion we'll be able to raise the funds to pay it back."

Do other Republicans think default is the solution? Does the president?

And since the portion of our national debt owed to the Social Security Trust Fund makes up (I believe) less than a third of our total debt, are we going to default on the rest of those bonds too?

From a press release just out from Sen. Harry Reid's leadership office: "Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) today joined James Roosevelt Jr., grandson of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in calling on the group Progress for America Inc. to cease running its latest television ad, which misleadingly features photos of President Roosevelt in its pitch for Social Security privatization. As James Roosevelt Jr. writes in his letter to Progress for America, 'to compare the courage it took to provide a guaranteed insurance program for our seniors and the disabled to the courage it will take to dismantle the most successful social program in history is simply unconscionable.'”

Before the Storm: "There is a lot of misinformation and misstatements out there. There is not one single plan that cuts benefits for today's seniors ... In my plan I don't cut benefits and I don't raise taxes. There is no way the Congress or the president is going to approve a plan that cuts benefits."

Rep. Clay Shaw of Florida, last night back home in the 22nd District.

Later Shaw made clear he wouldn't support any bill that cut future benefits for "our children and grandchildren."

Rep. Mike Castle of <$NoAd$> Delaware answers some phase-out questions from Human Events Online ...

As a leader of moderate Republicans, do you agree with President Bush's assessment that a payroll tax increase should be ruled out to help pay for Social Security reform?

REP. MIKE CASTLE (R.-DEL.): First of all, I don't rule in or out anything at this point. My own judgment is that this is an extremely complex problem, and I'm not 100% sure, or I'm not sure at all, that we should have any privatization in this area.

Do you favor personal retirement accounts?

CASTLE: I do not know the answer to that either. I've never embraced them one way or another, and I want to totally understand that. I think there's some merit to it and there's some problems with it.

Do you think other moderates share your views?

CASTLE: I don't know. We haven't had a lot of extensive discussions about it. Now, I will tell you that [Arizona Rep.] Jim Kolbe (R.) is one of the advocates for it and he's a moderate. So the answer's not 100% of the moderates oppose it, so it's hard for me to judge. I think you ask the right question, though. It's more likely in the moderate camp that you'll find people may have opposition to this.

Doesn't sound like Rep. Castle is sure of much of anything when it comes to Social Security. For the moment, though, we're sure he's in the Conscience Caucus.

The Republican Jewish Coalition joins the ranks of organizations running ads in favor of the president's Social Security phase-out plan ...

The Republican Jewish Coalition announces the launch of an advertising campaign in support of President Bush’s proposal to reform Social Security. Beginning the week of January 17th, the RJC will run full-page ads in major Jewish newspapers around the country as well as in Roll Call, a Washington, DC newspaper widely read by the White House, member of Congress, their staffs, and other leading policy-makers and opinion leaders.

The ads support the President’s proposal for allowing young families to voluntarily invest part of their Social Security contribution, while maintaining the current benefits for those on Social Security or nearing retirement. Social Security is headed for bankruptcy.

Whether it fails completely in 15 years or 40 years, there will come a day when it will no longer be possible for Social Security to provide full benefits to retirees. Raising Social Security taxes or cutting benefits will delay that failure, but will not prevent it.

Fails completely in 15 years? Even the president doesn't fib that bad.

What would Bubbe <$NoAd$> say?