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April 30, 2005


from the WaPo:

But behind the scenes, both sides were at least preparing for possible talks. Democratic Senate aides have been working up proposals to address Social Security's financing gap, to be ready in the event that private accounts are dropped, they said. Thomas's expansive approach to legislation is designed in large part to draw Democrats to the table, according to lobbyists close to the Ways and Means Committee.

"The idea is to put all this together and say to the Democrats, 'How can you vote against this?' " said one lobbyist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to jeopardize his access to the committee.

There is a major human nature and actual natural aging lesson in this entire social security debate, as well as a seeming inability to not relive the past, but the Repubs either can't or won't acknowledge it!

The insurance nature of the social security program is the mainstay defense for the dems, and it must be stressed over and over! What will happen under Bush's ideas to those that gamble away their social security??? Inquiring minds wish to know????

We put in the social security INSURANCE (please repeat this word ten thousand times, Mr President and others) system so that no seniors would have to be totally destitute as happened so often before social security. The success of the program in achieving this goal has been monumental! If we go with private accounts and assume a sizeable portion of the public loses this investment in rigged or unwise investments, then what do we do to keep that sizeable future elderly group from being destitute? Start a second social security INSURANCE (please repeat this word ten thousand times, Mr President and others) program for this group of two-time losers???

Indeed, funding for the future of the social security INSURANCE program must be assured in some manner, but the ownership society idea misses the entire point which is almost an inevitable part of the aging process in large groups, and has been the stimulus for starting this insurance progam in the first place.

Josh linked to a Boston Globe article about many of Bush's allies bailing on this. But my favorite quote, the one that has me saying "please God let them", is this from Steve Moore.

But the conservative leaders who form the core of President Bush's support on Social Security reforms say they intend to prevail by making private accounts a central issue in the Senate and House races next year. ''The Republicans have lost the first round of the battle, but they're winning the war," Moore insisted. ''You have to have candidates run on it. You have to win races on it."


Thomas is trying the Rovian "it's inevatable we're going to win, so get on our bandwagon" approach.

It seldom works for Rove (without intervention from the Supreme Court or 9-11), so there's no reason to think it's going to work with Thomas.

And the idea that an unpopular SS program will pass by trying to bundle it up into a far more complex and sweeping legislative package defies almost all historical precedent.

I think he's trying to use a scare tactic against the D's. The only problem is that it's hard to scare people with an idea that is bad in the first place.

Thankfully people figured that out when they were scared into voting for the Iraq war and it turned out to be a disaster. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, er um won't get fooled again."

Thomas is a lot smarter than Bush (or Frist), and he just might come up with something. You can be sure that it will contain tax measures as well as measures aimed at SS. There are a lot of pieces that can be folded in here. Add-on accounts, integrated IRA/401(k)/personal savings accounts as tax shelters for the rich, new or shifted taxes. Maybe even fold in the Pension Benefit Security Corporation that guarantees private pensions. Little things stuck in at the last minute.

Thomas is very clever, but he doesn't work well with others. It will be difficult to follow, but we must keep our eyes open for this and gear up to be able to exploit whatever fissures appear. If he is successful it will indeed change the political landscape.

He'll get something passed in the house, Mimikatz. What then?

Thomas' package approach would have been the way to go for the R's from the start. Thankfully they were too foolish. Now their credibility on the issue is damaged, facilitating fight-back for the D's. Thomas' sneaky add-ons, as Mimikatz describes, can play into the cronyism/insider favoritism angle that should be a part of the '06 D Congressional campaign strategy.

If Thomas gets something through the House we fight it in the Senate, obviously. This is why it really matters what happens with Bolton and the judges.

But some Senators may just think that their salvation lies in doing some grand policy deal after all this nastiness. I'm just suggesting that Thomas is smart and bears careful watching.

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