Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

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Oh boy ... If at first you don't succeed, etc.

According to a July 28th, 2000 article in USA Today, back in 1978 when President Bush was running for congress in Texas, "he predicted Social Security would go broke in 10 years and said the system should give people 'the chance to invest money the way they feel' is best."

1978 is in the pre-nexis era. So it's difficult to find coverage from the time if you're not on the scene. But presumably there are some local papers accessible on microfilm down in Texas that would shed more light on George W.: The Early Phase-Out Years.

(TPM's got a pretty sizable Texas readership. Anyone have a few hours free? A Special Edition Privatize This! TPM T-Shirt and a mug for any contemporary articles on President Bush's first Social Security scare campaign.)

Jill Lawrence has the byline for the piece. Let's ask her.

[ed.note: Credit to the folks at Center for American Progress for the find.]

Late Update: Here's a bit more information on The Early Phase-Out Years from a 1999 article in The Texas Observer ...

According to Gary Ott, who was then a reporter for the Plainview Daily Herald, Bush stopped by the paper’s little office "maybe five or six times. He’d sit down at my desk; he was a fun guy. He was very outgoing, very friendly, and we would argue politics since I was a liberal. We’d argue over Carter policies." Bush criticized energy policy, federal land use policy, subsidized housing, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration ("a misuse of power," he said), and he warned that Social Security would go bust in ten years unless people were given a chance to invest the money themselves. None of this really distinguished him from Hance, though, so in the end Bush simply argued that a Republican could better represent the district: "If you want a chance in the way Congress has been run, send someone who will be independent from those who will run the Congress."

So where are the microfilms of the Plainview Daily Herald?

TPM reader NB reports in from the field on <$NoAd$>the semantic chaos that has the Grey Lady spinning in circles ...

"Bush Finds a Backer in Moynihan, Who's Not Talking"

"Senators Urge Bush to Sell Overhaul of Social Security"


It appears a semantics battle is being waged at The NYTimes...the above links from today's paper indicate inner (dare we say personal) turmoil. Richard Stevenson comes out of the gate strong, using "private investment accounts" in the first sentence. He loses his footing, however in the third graph and writes of "ways of establishing personal accounts..." and repeats this in paragraph five. Stevenson comes roaring back near the end, reverting to "private investment accounts" (albeit in reference to Moynihan's plan which may have used that term specifically).

In the second article "private" is used four times and "personal" once.

Heated editorial arguments involved here, a transitional phase between "private" and "personal"? Or just a case of writers not needing a thesaurus now that Bush's PR hacks have given them an alternative...

cheers, NB Atlanta

[ed.note: We've just awarded NB a Special Edition Privatize This! TPM T-Shirt for conspicuous gallantry in the battle to save Social Security, service on the Orwell front.]

[Late Update: With his permission, we are happy to announce that NB is none other than Neal Broffman of Atlanta.]

Another article on the president's pitch to black leaders at the White House on Tuesday: You die so young, you're not getting a good deal from Social Security.

Since the president now seems inclined to bang on this patently dishonest argument, it's probably time for someone to pipe up and explain that the study the president is relying on has already been discredited by studies by the Social Security Administration and what was then still called the Government Accounting Office for errors so elementary that they were almost certainly intentional.

Some, though not all of those errors, are explained in this recent editorial from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Another local Democratic party resolution against President Bush's phase-out plan. This one from Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Congressional District 2 Central Committee and Senate District 39 Central Committee.

It turns out that Armstrong Williams wasn't the only pundit on the Bush administration payroll. Maggie Gallagher got $21,500 from HHS to flack Bush administration marriage and family policy. That's the story Howie Kurtz lands in tomorrow's Post.

On top of that, says Kurtz: "Gallagher received an additional $20,000 from the Bush administration in 2002 and 2003 for writing a report, titled 'Can Government Strengthen Marriage?', for a private organization called the National Fatherhood Initiative."

When you read a bit further down into the piece you find this fact: The fellow who hired Gallagher at HHS is Wade Horn, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. And what'd he do before he started work for the Bush administration? Right, he founded the National Fatherhood Iniative.

It seems fair to say that the Gallagher arrangement wasn't as egregious as the Williams one. It's not clear -- at least from Kurtz's piece -- that she was paid to flack the policy, but rather to ghostwrite a few marriage policy articles, write a few brochures and do ... well, it's actually not totally clear what she was paid to do.

Which suggests a point. Were they really worried that Gallagher would come out for free love without the cash incentive? Neither she nor Williams is really known for their independent streak. In Gallagher's case -- and to some degree in Williams' too -- this seems less like a matter of payola than a Bush administration make-work program for third-tier GOP pundits.

The ludicrous claim Sen. Wayne Allard (R) of Colorado made earlier this month -- that Social Security is $28 trillion in debt -- finally catches up with him in the Denver Post.

In case you've got your Wayne Allard scorecard out, that was the same town meeting when he said the US government would simply default on those Treasury notes in the Trust Fund.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall. From AP ...

Bush tried to get ministers and other leaders of the black community behind his agenda in an earlier private meeting that lasted more than an hour. Attendees said Bush told them his plan to add private accounts to Social Security would benefit blacks since they tend to die younger than whites and end up paying in more than they take out. Private accounts would be owned by workers and could be inherited by loved ones after death.

GWB: With you guys dying so young, how can you not support me?

The Times and NBC may have adopted "personal accounts" over "private accounts" at the bidding of the Republican National Committee. But the AP's Nedra Pickler is standing firm with "private accounts."

Reuters, meanwhile, tries to be half-pregnant with "personal stock and bond accounts", while Bloomberg ups the ante on the White House with "private stock accounts".