Evil Genius Worries
Today all the liberal blogs should be rejoicing for what appears to be a victory to prevent the phase out of social security. From the Post:
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) predicted yesterday that partisan warfare over Social Security will quickly render President Bush's plan "a dead horse" and called on Congress to undertake a broader review of the problems of an aging nation.But the initial reaction of most bloggers has been like Kevin Drum's:
Democrats are going to keep a pretty united front on this, and that united front is going to scare at least 40 or 50 Republicans away from supporting it. The votes just aren't there.Nope, the Republicans just screwed up. Unless I'm mistaken Bush will talk a great deal about Social Security in his inaugural speech. Democrats need to hold his feet to the fire on this one. Fortunately, most Democrats (including Drum) realize this. Mark Schmitt, after discussing some similar worries best sums up the Democratic advantage thus:
But here's the funny thing: surely Karl Rove knows this? Unless I'm missing something, it seems like a no brainer. So what's the point?
I dunno. Maybe a head fake of some kind? Back in 2002 I couldn't figure out why Bush initially opposed a vote on the Iraq war either, since it was obvious that he'd win one easily. In that case, generating Democratic demands for a vote was probably the underlying reason, since that prevented Democrats from then claiming that the whole thing was just a partisan trap.
The problem for the White House is not that they will lose the legislation. They were prepared for that. The problem is that they can't even get to the starting point of credibility on their legislation, even befor they offer it. If they can't get to the debate they want, they will lose control of the agenda, and it will disintegrate into a bunch of nutty and hugely embarassing ideas like Thomas's plan to "gender-adjust" Social Security to reduce benefits for women because they live longer. (Putting all this together, Social Security is, according to Republicans, unfair to African-Americans because they die young and too generous to widows because they live too long.) If you can remember not to panic about any of this actually becoming law, it will be highly entertaining.
This sorry game is over. The challenge for Democrats is now to drag it out, to inflict maximum pain, to drag this out at least as long as the Clinton health care debacle was drawn out.