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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Blumenthal Says Bush Will Fail Big on Social Security

Category: US Politics
Posted: 03/04/05 16:52, Edited: 04/01/05 07:01

by Jay H. Steele

Former Clinton advisor Sydney Blumenthal suggests in a Salon.com article that if Senate Democrats hold firm in their opposition to SS privatization, Bush will fail and it will have major repurcussions for the Republican Party:

Bush's impending defeat on Social Security is no minor affair. He has made this the centerpiece of domestic policy of his second term. It is the decades-long culmination of the conservative wing's hostility against Social Security and the Democratic Party. Projecting images of Roosevelt and Kennedy cannot distract from Bush's intent to undermine the accomplishments of Democratic presidents. The repudiation of Bush on Social Security will be fundamental and profound and will shake the foundations of conservative Republicanism. Bush's agony is only beginning, if the Democrats in the Senate can maintain their discipline.

Blumenthal points out how Bush draws his anti-SS language from right-wingers all the way back to the 1936 Republican Party Platform, who warned that the trust fund wouldn't be there for retirees. He gives us quotes from Republican strategist Frank Luntz on the need to avoid the word privatization, and on the importance of linking SS "reform" with 9/11:

Republicans, says Luntz, should never use the word "privatized." They should substitute "personalized." "And PLEASE remember that you are NEVER talking about privatizing Social Security, nor are you advocating INDIVIDUAL accounts. You are talking about creating PERSONAL retirement accounts." Republicans should also talk about "personalized accounts" as being about "the future," he says, and remind people that "Social Security was built for a different America."

Another problem, Luntz instructs Republicans, is that the public is familiar with the gyrations of the stock market. "There is a difficulty ... in talking too much about the stock market. The American people are sensitive to the ups and downs of the stock market." So, he urges, Republicans should claim that that Social Security is at "larger risk" if it is not "personalized."

When all else fails, Republicans should simply resort to the fear factor: "September 11th changed everything. So start with September 11th. This is the context that explains and justifies why we have 0 billion deficits, why the stock market tanked, why unemployment climbed to 6 percent ... Without the context of September 11th you will be blamed for the deficit ... Link the war on terror to the economy."

I think Blumenthal is right, but I also think that Bush has barely begun to fight, and that we are going to see a barrage of lies and smears in the weeks ahead. It is going to get a lot uglier before it is over, but if Dems hold their ground, the right wing of the Republican Party is going to be severly damaged.

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Wingnut Heaven

Category: Minnesota Politics
Posted: 03/01/05 06:20, Edited: 04/01/05 07:01

by David Mindeman

When the Minnesota courts ended up setting the boundaries for the 2000 Congressional Districts, I wonder if they realized they were setting up "Wingnut Heaven" in District 6. This district encompasses a long narrow line extending from St. Cloud and then across the northern suburbs, into Sherburne and Stearns Counties, and then down through Washington and Wright counties including the city of Stillwater. It's almost like they were looking for every facet of Republican extremism so they could slap it into this district.

The heir to the Republican Senate nomination, Mark Kennedy, is the current congressional legislator there, but his announcement to run for the Senate has sent the looney nuts into a frenzy. For some reason, it seems the GOP assumption is, that if you win the Republican endorsement for this 6th District seat, you automatically become the winner. Aside, from the fact, that this assumption might be a bit premature, it is enough for the whackos to believe it is; and believe me, they are coming out of the woodwork.

Take a look at this list of announced and contemplated candidates. First, we have one of my favorites, Sen. Michelle Bachmann, the die-hard that tied up the Senate so often with an Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment that she pretty much single handedly wiped out the bonding bill last session. Then there is Phil Krinkie. He is so excited about this opportunity that he is willing to move to the district just to run. As you may know, Phil is the "brains" of a House coalition that has decided mass transit is a boondoggle in any form and has twisted enough Republican arms in the House to tie up the North Star corridor-- at least until this year's bonding bill. My guess, he wants to get to Congress so he can cut out the Federal portion of the funding and kill it that way. Sly little devil! Recently, we got the darling of the Education privatizers, Cheri Pierson Yecke, joining the fray. Even though she has never won an election in Minnesota and was never even confirmed for her job as Education Commissioner, Ms. Yecke thinks she can convince enough Maple River Coalition "kooks" to sneak away the nomination. She's not a child,"leave her behind". Another unannounced but very wingnut savvy candidate is Mary Kiffmeyer, the holy see in the Secretary of State's office. Please let us pray for true church-state understanding. Next in this long list, there is State Senator Michelle Fischbach. (Fischbach-Bachmann, what's the difference? Answer: Not Much.) If you're keeping track, her husband is the state director of (wouldn't you know) MCCL. So we can guess, what her agenda will be. Other members of the "peanut" gallery of candidates are Jim Knoblauch, a long time St. Cloud representative, and one of the architects of our draconian style budget cuts as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dan Nygaard, the 6th District GOP Chair, and Jay Esmay, one of the main loose cannon activist crazies in the district, who honestly believes that a 14 year Air Force career is the only requirement needed to be a Congressional Rep.

There you have it. A long list of people I wouldn't want to be represented by. But there is one thing to keep in mind. All of these characters are going to spend a lot of time and money getting the GOP nod and if things get real nasty (and with this cast of characters it is hard to believe it won't) there could be a primary fight. While they one up each other, trying to be more conservative than the other and as far to the right as humanly possible without being a fascist, a Democrat could look like the voice of reason. Keep that in mind as the 6th District antics continue.

Go Wingnuts!
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