Thursday :: Aug 25, 2005

Democrats Need To Prepare Now For Another Social Security Push By The GOP


by Steve

We know that the Bush White House will return from the congressional recess and start pushing again for privatizing Social Security. Yet Bush’s poll numbers are so low on the issue, and vulnerable GOP incumbents so frightened to frontally make this an issue again in advance of the 2006 elections, you would think that there is no chance that the GOP will try again this fall to ram privatization through. You would be wrong.

I have been saying for a little while now that the Democrats should be running at the GOP on two issues for the remainder of this session: Iraq and Social Security. The case for browbeating Bush on Iraq is clear to me, and many of you disagree and feel that Democrats should let Bush sink in his own mess here, in the hope that voters will turn to the Democrats next year after they have said nothing of clarity or substance on the issue. OK, we’ll agree to disagree on that one.

But there is talk now that the GOP will in fact take another, under-the-radar run at passing Social Security privatization this session, and they will model their approach on the approach that yielded the GOP-only, budget busting Medicare drug bill fiasco. How? Well, according to this piece from the Dallas Morning News, Rove and the GOP are planning to have each house pass a Social Security-related bill: the Senate will pass a watered-down bill that doesn’t include private accounts while DeLay will ram through Bill Thomas’s Ways and Means Committee a bill that does include private accounts. Then, following the example set by the Medicare drug bill, the GOP leadership will send both bills to a conference committee where Democrats will be largely if not totally excluded, and produce a bill that, voila, has private accounts in them.

Up to this point, this is all very likely to happen. But for this plan to work from here on, each house will then have to vote on the conference committee bill. You will remember that the way DeLay did this back in 2003 on the Medicare bill was to hold the vote late at night and to hold the vote open beyond the rules until he had squeezed out a thin majority. He got away with this because the Democrats and the media didn’t see it coming and didn’t think the GOP would be so brazen as to lie to Congress about the program’s costs and then throw away the rules to get the vote they needed. And this is where the Democrats and especially the grassroots can kill two birds with one stone: stop the privatization effort and mortally wound numerous vulnerable GOP incumbents up for reelection in 2006. How? By starting now to talk up Social Security again and to frame the issue as one where the GOP will try and get through Democratic exclusion and by trickery in the middle of the night what they don’t have the guts or support to do in broad daylight.

Bush and the GOP are in trouble now on Iraq for not being trustworthy and for having no plan to clean up a mess they created. Remember that when Bush and Rove came back from their 2002 recess, they were ready with their “new product” of the Iraq war and caught Democrats flat-footed. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi should not make that mistake again, and should be ready to jump on the White House and GOP with both feet on Social Security and trust. That means the truth squads and the media events should be fired up again in the districts of vulnerable GOP House incumbents and in the states of vulnerable GOP senators.

The Democratic leadership should be working the media now, setting the correct framing on Social Security and trust with the public so that they get a jump on the GOP for a change.

Steve :: 3:07 PM :: Comments (27) :: TrackBack (2) :: Digg It!