A number of readers

A number of readers, particularly current and former Hill staffers, have written in to say that we’re reading too much into Rep. Jim Moran’s constituent letter professing an open mind about President Bush’s Social Security phase-out plan.

As a general matter of congressional office practice, I think this is right. A good staffer never wants to lock his or her boss into a position in response to a constituent letter, absent some pressing reason to do so.

But abolishing Social Security isn’t just any issue. For Democrats, it’s an issue of fundamental importance and core values. And it promises to be the legislative issue of the next congress.

With that in mind, I think it’s well for constituents to insist on a clear and unambiguous statement of where their representatives stand on this issue — not the standard ‘glad to hear your views; it’s an important issue; we’ll see what happens.’