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March 15, 2005


Good on you for giving credit where credit is due. Constant whining about'spineless' Dems, Dems "without balls", growing a 'backbone' and other anatomical implausibilities etc. misses the point about the limitations of minority status and what can be effective and when... Reid is doing a good job.

At least Reid is capable of doing something in the Senate. The House Repubs have made a travesty of that chamber, with the Dems lucky if they're even allowed on the House floor.

Just why is it that the Dems are so cautious about talking about the raiding of the SS trust fund since the supposed surpluses were built in from about 1983. I would think that such a subject of such irresponsible and seldom talked about as if hidden federal government actions with money that was intended for future retirement benefits would create great political hay for the Dems. I think both conservative and liberal voters would be quite outraged if the full, clear and simple story behind the SS trust fund surplus scam were to be told against the offending party! One the other hand, just how much complicity or responsible did Democrats have in the trust fund raiding scam/scheme? Does anyone know?

The Trust Fund was slightly raided under Clinton but, if you recall, the gov't was running a surplus when Clinton left office. That surplus was the excess in Social Security payroll taxes over benefits paid. Clinton proposed to "Save Social Security First" and Gore in 2000 proposed putting the excess in a "lockbox" to keep it from being spent.

The excess each year, and more, has been spent under Bush, largely as a result of his tax cuts. Without the Bush tax cuts, we would once again be running a surplus this year.

Then if the Dems are no too involved in this raiding of this money that taxpayers/voters back in the 1980s were told was to sure up SS benefits for the future, again why are not the Dems talking up this raiding of this surplus by Repub administrations from the law's intentions??

NG: I think that's the subtext of the moves by Conrad and Nelson. On "agenda setting" issues you usually want to first apply some primer before you start to paint, and this may be an attempt to start painting a picture of Bush's tax cuts combined with the Congressional Repubs' profligacy as being the real crisis with the Social Security system. Notice that the polls have been showing that while there's little support for Bush on Social Security, there is a fairly strong belief that Social Security has some problem that needs to be solved. The Dems may be setting this up as solving the problem of solvency, or failing miserably at addressing the real problem. That way, if Bush fails to pass his proposal, it won't just be that he failed to implement a piece of his agenda, it will be that he failed to solve an obvious problem with Social Security, one that will require the Democrats to fix in order to preserve the system for the future.

I think you're right that the Dems need to talk about it, if not for what happened in the past, then at least for where we go next.

Mimikatz--Thanks for mentioning "save Social Security first" I him saying that line--in his 1998 SOTU, just a few days after the Lewinsky story broke--as the moment that I decided that Clinton would prevail over the Repubs. I can almost hear the rapturous cheers of the Dems and see the sour look on the faces of Gingrich and Armey as Cliton talked and governed circles around them--it was one of the finest moments of his political career.

[It's too bad that most of that man's finest moments involve pulling himself back from the ledge overlooking the abyss...]

BTW, nice to see you here.

Just a reminder that much of the "solvency" problem with Social Security has been caused by the treatment of interest payments on borrowing from the Trust Fund post 1994 (when Republican Congresses came to be). Martin Sabo's bill that would deal with this matter has been introduced, but as he said on C-Span last week, he doesn't expect to get any sort of hearing on either his bill or analysis of the problem in this Congress.

So it is a two step thing -- first, get familiar with Sabo (and the Democratic Study Group's) analysis of "what went wrong" -- and then just keep making the point that in "This Congress" there is no way an honest analysis and repair will even get a hearing.

Sabo's strategy is on one hand yea -- make Bush responsible for his own "plan" -- but at the same time recognize through narrative of what caused the problem, that it was decisions by Congress under Republican Leadership since 1994 that laid the path for Bush's forward thrust with his plan. We have to achieve both rejection of Bush's plan and distrust of the honesty and good will of Republican Congressional Leadership. If they have to run in 2006 against the message that it was their leadership that took the pork-chops off Grandma's plate -- then we will be getting someplace.

If you want it put in Moral terms -- we Democrats have some great quotes. Hubert Humphrey made the point that the way to measure the moral tone of any society was how it treated those with the smallest voices, namely the children and the infirm and the retired elderly. That is, simply put, our larger moral context.

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