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 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.