You have to wonder who exactly Bush thought he was helping with this bizarre stunt:
[T]his year, with no fanfare whatsoever, Bush stuck a big Social Security privatization plan in the federal budget proposal, which he sent to Congress on Monday.
His plan would let people set up private accounts starting in 2010 and would divert more than $700 billion of Social Security tax revenues to pay for them over the first seven years.
It’s all in there: the private accounts, the indexing, every other airheaded idea that you thought had already died months ago. Before anybody forgets Social Security privatization died an unmourned death, with every new Luntz-approved catchphrase (‘personalization,’ ‘personal accounts,’ ‘modernization,’ whatever) proving less popular than the last. By the end Republicans were reduced to denying, indignantly, that they ever supported such a ridiculous scheme.
I wouldn’t take this story too seriously because few Pubs come from safe enough districts to take on Social Security in the full light of day. This scheme died the moment it appeared in a newspaper.
Speaking of underhanded legislative gimmicks, here’s a new one from our friends Frist and Hastert:
“Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Speaker Dennis Hastert engineered a backroom legislative maneuver to protect pharmaceutical companies from lawsuits, say witnesses to the pre-Christmas power play. The language was tucked into a Defense Department appropriations bill at the last minute without the approval of members of a House-Senate conference committee, say several witnesses, including a top Republican staff member.”
Travel back with me, if you will, to a day in 1987 when a long-ago campaigner for good government, Rep. Dick Cheney, reacted to that horrible Jim Wright holding a vote open for an additional 15 minutes:
Republicans denounced this as an outrageous departure from regular order. Then-Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) railed against “Jim Wright and his goons.” And a Republican congressman named Dick Cheney denounced the move as “the most arrogant, heavy-handed abuse of power I’ve ever seen in the 10 years that I’ve been here.”
Cut to that selfsame campaigner standing on a windswept field, observing today’s congress and crying a single, silent tear.
Yes, Cheney has stood on that field and cried that tear before. Some public service ads are too poignantly moving to run just once.
Think of this Cheney person, kids, the next time you
litter wreck Congress.