Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

Doris Matsui (D-CA) announces decision to seek election to her late husband's House seat in California's 5th congressional district.

"I am asking those who supported him to now support me."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has set March 8th as election day. If no candidate garners more than 50% of the vote a second round will be held on May 3rd.

We're all hip to push-polls and other strategies for below-the-radar advocacy. But perhaps the Social Security phase-out agenda provides a new and ready-made technique.

Many companies have benefits providers who have regular contact with quite a few individual employees. Today, for instance, I received a copy of a flyer posted around one firm letting everyone know about an upcoming special presentation on the Social Security 'crisis' for the benefit of the company's employees.

The presentation is being put on by a representative from a certain financial services company.

The flyer reads "Social Security ... Find out: How it works, Why it is in crisis What to expect."

Of course, there's also details with date and time and even the munchies that they'll serve. You can even get an individual consultation if you want, it says -- no doubt to tell you that the Social Security Administration is set to auto-destruct and that anyone who thinks they'll ever collect a Social Security benefit is certifiably insane.

Have you seen flyers like this showing up at your work place?

Cato Update: Earlier today we reported that the Cato website lists Rep. Harold Ford as giving the luncheon address on day two of the Social Security conference that they are holding on February 8th and 9th. The congressman's office tells TPM that the congressman actually declined Cato's invitation sometime last week.

We note that a revised program now posted on the Cato website lists Edward Prescott as giving that speech.

Alright, ya heard it here first. I hear that The New Republic's Ryan Lizza is about to escort someone on Capitol Hill right outta the Fainthearted Faction. Their new issue hits the web tomorrow. So we should know more then.

Steve Clemons latest in the escalating Clemons-Frum smackfest over <$NoAd$> Iraq ...

David Frum responds to yesterday's post on Brent Scowcroft and a possible Iraqi civil war with a supercilious and I think incorrect commentary on the fine differences between the words 'incipient' and 'imminent'.

I'll let the linguists out there be the judge of who has the better part of that lexical exercise. Bill Safire could have some fun with this. But the last time David and his friends played fast and loose with the word 'imminent', it cost us more than a thousand American lives -- and counting.

So when it comes to that word it's my policy to keep him and his crew on short leash.

Ouch ...

Hillary tells the president, No Dice, when it comes to a Social Security phase-out.

In a letter the New York senator is now sending out to constituents who ask her position on Social Security, she writes "I oppose diverting money from the Social Security program to establish private accounts."

Now, don't get me wrong. I doubt there was ever much chance Hillary was going to end up on the wrong side of this issue. But an article that is running today in CQ shows why it's important, even for those like Senator Clinton, to make the point crystal clear.

Here's the beginning of the piece and then a section further down on Senator Clinton's position ...

Three prominent Democrats are making clear they will not support President Bush’s proposal to divert some Social Security payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts, dealing the administration a setback as it engages in a campaign to build public support for an overhaul.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., is sending letters to constituents who ask about her position on the president’s proposal stating: “I oppose diverting money from the Social Security program to establish private accounts.”


Advocates of the president’s plan had held out hope that Clinton might eventually be convinced to support creating personal accounts in Social Security. She is one of the most famous people in Congress; her national profile and popularity is such that she is considered the undeclared front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008. And she has made vague statements in the past saying Social Security should be “strengthened,” although she has not wedded herself to a solution.

Her letter should remove any doubts about her position. In it, she described the president’s proposal as “harmful to Americans” if enacted and said: “I am profoundly worried about the effect this proposal would have on New Yorkers who rely on Social Security.”

The piece in CQ notes the newly-stated opposition of Clinton as well as that of Senators Kennedy and Johnson. As CQ notes, "Each of the three senators who announced their opposition to Bush’s plan this week represents unique problems for the president[, though] Clinton’s statement is probably most significant."

Hillary's opposition, they explain, means the president will have neither of the New York senators, who represent Wall Street on his side. (On the other hand, plenty of Wall Streeters commute in from Connecticut. And the president clearly thinks Fainthearted Faction member Joe Lieberman's vote is still in play.) Kennedy's opposition sets a tone of Democratic conscience and history. And Johnston's stance makes clear that a senator from a very red state -- one that just turned out a senate minority leader -- doesn't have to feel the need to run scared on an issue like Social Security.

Indeed, quite the opposite. As I think we'll see increasingly over the next few months, making a tough and unabashed defense of Social Security gives senators like Johnson a chance to show that they are standing with their constituents' values and their material interests while President Bush is attacking both. (You can see Johnson's statement from yesterday on his website here.) We'll have to wait and see if Senator Landrieu gets the word.

Republican Rep. Jim Ramstad of Minnesota on the current state of the president's Social Security phase-out bill.

“Right now, to be very candid with you, we don’t have broad Republican support let alone bipartisan support for [President Bush's] plan that was outlined during the campaign.”

And could it happen this year?

“It could. But uhhh … Y’know, and the Vikings could win the Super Bowl this year. I mean the chances are not 50-50, let me be honest with you.”

The quotes come from Rep. Ramstad's interview on Minnesota Public Radio Monday morning.

(ed.note: If you're interested in listening yourself, the quotes come at 30:18 and 34:14 in the recording.)