I want you to meet some friends of ours.
We call them the Fainthearted-Faction. They're the thirteen Democrats who look most likely to go wobbly when President Bush comes a'courting, asking for votes to phase out Social Security.
But first a bit of history.
I was recently reminded that back in 2001 there was something called the Filner Amendment. Without getting too bogged down in the details, this was a proxy vote on Social Security 'privatization'. Specifically, it aimed to "prohibit funds for the purpose of implementing the final report" of the President's Social Security Commission (i.e., privatization).
It turned out pretty much a party line vote. But not entirely.
Twenty Democrats voted against it.
The good news -- if of, shall we say, a rather painful sort and the kind one can only survive so much of -- is that six of those representatives aren't in the 109th congress -- for reasons ranging from defeat to retirement to felony conviction. And one has become a Republican -- Ralph Hall of Texas. But that still leaves 13 members who are already on the slippery slope to Boydville.
They are ...
Robert "Bud" Cramer
I might note that one of those no longer in the congress is Tim Roemer, member of the 9/11 commission, and now an aspirant to head the DNC.
I'm a fan of Roemer's, though not necessarily a supporter of his for the DNC post. But I imagine he's going to have to really 'refine' his stance on this issue if he wants to have even the slightest chance of winning that contest.
More generally, opposition to phasing out Social Security, per se, is not the only grounds to persuade members of the Fainthearted-Faction to come to their senses on this issue. There's also the rather powerful argument of fiscal sanity. Putting the nation another two trillion dollars into debt over the next decade when we're already laboring under very large structural deficits is more than a little foolish. And most members of the Faction are fiscally conservative. So that's a promising appeal.
Finally, we've decided to put our own Social Security 'where do they stand' database together at TPM. And we're going to be getting help from some others who've already started doing this work separately from us. But we'll need volunteers to help collect and organize the data. Are you interested in getting involved? Let us know.