Saturday :: Feb 12, 2005

House GOP Isn't So Gung-Ho To Push Ahead Full Speed With Privatization


by Steve

Read this story in Saturday’s NYT and you can see the different agendas between Ken Mehlman, Karl Rove, and the RNC, who want to ram a privatization plan through the Congress for Bush’s legacy; and Denny Hastert who doesn’t want to push his GOP caucus into a political buzz saw in next year’s midterms, just for the sake of Mr. Bush’s legacy.

Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, warning that "you can't jam change down the American people's throat," has become the latest and most prominent Congressional Republican to call for more public education and debate before Congress acts on transforming Social Security, President Bush's top legislative priority.
In an interview with The Chicago Tribune published on Friday, Mr. Hastert said he could not predict how long it would take to pass a major Social Security overhaul - perhaps six months, perhaps two years, he said. The White House has been pressing for fast action this year, hoping to take advantage of the president's political strength before any second-term inertia kicks in.
Even as Mr. Hastert highlighted the political fragility of the issue, the chairman of the Republican National Committee was trying to demonstrate political momentum, declaring that in recent weeks Mr. Bush had successfully "made the case for reform." In a conference call with reporters, the Republican chairman, Ken Mehlman, said recent polls showed that Americans had rejected what he called the "ostrich position": that Social Security did not need to be changed.
The Republican chairman noted that in a midterm election, like that of 2006, voters most likely to turn out are the party's core constituents, who, he said, will be particularly energized by the creation of private accounts.

Exactly who Mr. Mehlman are going to turn out in droves to support privatization next year when it's your red state base that is lukewarm on the idea? There's no John Kerry to vilify at the top of the ticket next year, and there's no clear way to replay the gay marriage and abortion scare tactic and tie them somehow to privatization in 2006. Do Mehlman and Rove really think they can push the "moral values" voters from the pews to the polls again next year on this issue, after the Democrats spend months bitch-slapping the White House on the moral values demonstrated by the GOP in lining the pockets of Wall Street, adding trillions in debt, at the expense of a seniors' safety net?

The chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, responded by saying, "You don't mess with Social Security because it helps turn out your base in a midterm election."
But political considerations figure prominently for both parties. Mr. Emanuel's committee has begun highlighting pledges from House Republicans who once promised never to cut benefits or "privatize" Social Security but are now supporting the president's proposal.

Hastert knows that the polls have turned against the president’s plan. He doesn’t want to make his caucus and his leadership walk the plank if he can avoid it by slowing down the privatization train.

Mehlman on the other hand, taking orders from Rove, right now cares more about Bush’s legacy and wants to push privatization through this year before Bush becomes a total lame duck. Mehlman and Rove are whistling past the graveyard and ignoring the polls, hoping they can mislead the public and anesthetize the media once again. Hastert has different ideas and concerns, which will only get worse the more Democrats ramp up the pressure on individual GOP incumbents.

Steve :: 9:01 AM :: Comments (16) :: Digg It!