Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Will Frist Delay SS Reform Vote?

The Washington Post has an article saying that Republicans in the Senate may delay a vote on Social Security reform, and imply that it could even go to 2006. Link.
The Senate's top Republican said yesterday that President Bush's bid to restructure Social Security may have to wait until next year and might not involve the individual accounts the White House has been pushing hard.

The comments of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), made as GOP lawmakers returned from a week of trying to sell the plan to voters, underscored the challenge facing the White House, especially in light of unbroken Democratic opposition. (...)

Frist is reluctant to put off a vote until 2006, when lawmakers will be focused on midterm congressional elections and the atmosphere will be more politically charged, aides said. But with polls showing widespread skepticism of Bush's proposal and some Republicans opposed to the approach, GOP leaders signaled yesterday that they may have no choice but to put off action.

Social Security reform is the single most important part of the president's domestic agenda, and he has to get out in front on it. His passive approach of "Everything is on the table" and "Congress will decide the shape of the plan" will not work. Yes, Congress will decide the final shape of the plan, but it must start with a detailed plan from the president that it will then amend in its usual give and take. The reason the polls are looking bad is that people have not heard a good argument from the president as to why we need private accounts. They have only been exposed to the MSM drumbeat that the president's plan (as if there were one) will throw grandma out into the street. Noone but the president has the bully pulpit. Frist doesn't have it and neither does Hastert. The president cannot rely on congressional leaders, or congressional members for that matter, to sell the plan, or it is doomed.


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