The In This Together

The ‘In This Together Campaign’ (ITT) is the group heading the anti-phase-out forces in New York state. And at the moment that largely means trying to get Republican members of Congress to come out of their hardened bunkers and answer constituents questions about President Bush’s privatization plan.

To date, from what we understand, not one Republican member of the New York congressional delegation has held a townhall meeting about Social Security. ITT has been trying to muscle some of these folks into showing their faces in their districts. And one of them, Rep. John Sweeney has agreed to hold a meeting to answer constituent questions. So far, according to ITT press releases from March 9th, Reps. Boehlert, Reynolds, Kelly and King are all refusing to hold public meetings.

I can certainly understand where these folks might not want to attend meetings put together by ITT. But their unwillingness to hold any public forums on the issue is pretty telling. I mean, you’d think they could at least hold one of those Bush-style meetings with the animatronic citizens, right?

Then there’s Rep. Vito Fossella (R) from Staten Island. A few weeks ago he told a local TV interviewer that Democrats were “irresponsible” for not going along with President Bush’s phase-out plan and that failing to act now would lead to either tax hikes or benefit cuts for younger Americans.

That prompted Democratic state party chair Herman “Denny” Farrell, Jr. to send off a letter to Fossella. After pointing out that the Bush plan itself calls for steep benefit cuts, he wrote: “I am writing today to ask that you pledge to rule out cutting benefits for future retirees, as President Bush’s plan would do. I am sure New Yorkers in your district are eager to hear you make such a pledge.”

To date, apparently there’s been no reply from Fossella. So presumably Fossella is a phase-out man but for the moment he’s laying low hoping he won’t have to tell constituents to their faces.