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You may not know who Jim McCrery is, but President Bush certainly does.

When Representative Jim McCrery raised questions about President Bush's plan to overhaul Social Security, the White House quickly put the squeeze on him. Four of the president's men descended on Capitol Hill to pay a visit to Mr. McCrery, an unassuming Louisiana Republican, surrounding him with charts and figures in a fevered effort to get him to endorse the company line.

Why is a lowly Congressman so important to the president that he required such special attention?  Simple.  McCrery is the Chairman of House Subcommittee on Social Security and is a close and trusted lieutenant of Representative Bill Thomas, the powerful Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose input on Social Security Privatization could be hugely important to the President.  

The political war that is growing over the future of Social Security seems to have adopted the unfortunate McCrery as one of its epicenters.  In an encouraging move to counter the America's ruthless conservative oligarchy's attempted power grab over Social Security, the Campaign for America's Future has taken their case to McCrery's backyard.

WASHINGTON -- A liberal advocacy group has set its sights on the chairman of the House subcommittee that will take up Social Security legislation in what is a rapidly mounting public relations battle over President Bush's plan to create private investment accounts in exchange for a cut in guaranteed retirement benefits.

The Campaign for America's Future, which opposes the Bush plan, intends to buy ads in Republican Jim McCrery's Louisiana district starting Thursday, charging that he has been tainted by political donations from investment firms that stand to reap sizable fees under Bush's proposal.

"His ties to Wall Street are enough to call his impartiality on Social Security into question," said Toby Chaudhuri, spokesman for the group and a former campaign aide to Democrat Al Gore.

...Advocates on both sides have launched public relations blitzes to influence the debate.

A conservative group called Progress for America has reportedly budgeted $20 million to support private accounts and has bought ads on Fox News and CNN. Club for Growth, a free-market think tank, plans to raise $10 million and already has targeted wavering Republicans to get them behind the Bush private accounts proposal.

On the other side, AARP, the influential lobby for older Americans, has been running a $5 million ad campaign against Bush's proposal. The Campaign for America's Future is part of a left-leaning coalition with organized labor that plans to raise $30 million to oppose turning Social Security into a private account system.

The latter group is targeting McCrery, the spokesman said, because of the 10-term congressman's prominent role in the Social Security debate and also because he has raised questions about the president's approach. Two weeks ago, McCrery said Bush's plan is easy to attack politically because it takes money out of the existing system. He had suggested that instead of diverting money from payroll taxes, which pay for current Social Security benefits, private accounts could be financed with new government borrowing or changes in the tax system.

Soon after his comments, the White House stepped up its lobbying of McCrery. Later, he said he thought the president's approach was the right way to proceed..

Good to hear.  This is becoming the battle we should and would have seen back in 2001, were it not for 9/11.  

Originally posted to Descrates on Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 07:33 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  another hardball to throw (none)
    This comment from the McCrery article NYT jumped out at me:
    Mr. McCrery says he loves being a congressman, yet he almost walked away last year. Torn between his job in Washington and his wife and two young sons back in Shreveport, he told Republican leaders he would not seek re-election. "I was gone," he said, though he changed his mind when the family decided to move to the capital. As the McCrerys agonized over their future, supporters back home offered housing, a job for his wife, even a private plane to make the commute quicker. Mr. McCrery said he turned them down.

    "All kinds of offers came in the door," he said, "none of which was legal."

    Hey Senator, did you tell anybody about all these illegal offers you received?  The government might like to know about it....

  •  Battle? (3.33)
    Nice summary Descrates on what at first glance 'appears' to be a battle.

    But don't fool yourself.  There are no battles left.  If you haven't noticed, all checks and balances are gone, not to mention that the majority of Democrats are spineless (or scared for the lives?  go figure).

    I don't see 'any' battles.  I haven't seen the Democrats engage is battle in, o, 5 years? 8?

    Right now the Democractic Party is in full "retreat" mode.  Last I looked the GOP was hell bent to undermine the Democratic Party as a viable party at all - and last I looked they were 'winning'.

    You cannot wage a 'battle' if you do not have the will.  The Democrats do not have the will, nor, currently, the means.

    If you think for 1 minute that the Republicans are not going to get every single pyschotic judge and cabinet member they desire, plus all legislation they want to passed, I beg to differ.

    Frisch (R-Cat Killer) is one step (Cheney R-Nazi) from eliminating the 'filibuster' in the Senate.  Do you think these loons are going to engage in battle?  I hardly doubt it; why should they?  There is no enemy, only a receding tide with invertebrates scurring to get back to the safety of the water.

    "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." - Asimov

    by louislemire on Sun Feb 27, 2005 at 07:56:19 AM PST

  •  Very smart. (none)
    Thanks for the good news. Targeting McCrery in his home is pretty damn smart. We're learning quickly.

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