Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Damn near official: Privatization is dead

From The Hill:

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) waded into Republican territory yesterday, releasing a whip count of 29 Republicans he says are on record opposing “all or major parts of President Bush’s plan” for Social Security reform.

Given the GOP’s 14-vote margin in the House, Hoyer reasons that Republicans will need to initiate a more serious conversation with Democrats if they are nursing any hopes of passing a plan this session.

Hoyer’s cross-aisle whipping is indicative of the Democrats’ swelling confidence that the Social Security debate cuts in their favor and tracks with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rahm Emanuel’s (D-Ill.) strategy. He has been attempting to brand vulnerable GOP lawmakers who appear open to the president’s proposal, despite their stated opposition to privatization, as “flip-floppers.”

Last week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told her colleagues in a closed-door meeting that Democrats should not “shoot until we see the whites of their eyes,” according to a leadership aide.

Republicans acknowledged that there are divergent views in their party but disputed Hoyer’s whip count, arguing the he had tied generic statements opposing “privatization” with blanket opposition to allowing some younger workers to divert a small portion of their payroll taxes into personal accounts.

“If Steny Hoyer did more complete research, he would find a lot more than 29 that are against privatization,” said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

This is no time to let up, but I am just about ready to call this fight.

It has been so easy, and I am so used to the good guys being out-thought out-hustled that I am starting to wonder what we are missing. Was the whole thing some subtle Trojan horse? Was Karl Rove beating us at yet another game we didn't know we were playing?


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