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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Frist, Senate GOPers Waving White Flag on Social Security After Hearing "Some" Opposition at Town Hall meetings

Normally I don't devote attention in this space to the goings and comings of the politicians on Capitol Hill, but in The Washington Post this morning is an article that perfectly illustrates why the GOP majority could be extremely short-lived.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-TN, returned from a week back home and announced that President Bush's Social Security reform proposal will just have to wait, likely until next year, and probably won't ever include the individual investment accounts that are key to the reform effort and indeed to the essential underlying "Opportunity Society" philosophy that supposedly animates Bush and the GOP majority in Congress.

Translated, that means the Senate GOP leader wants Bush to drop Social Security reform. Forever. Putting it off till next year effectively kills it because next year is an election year and Congress almost never makes such tough decisions - i.e. decisions that Democrats, liberal activists and the MSM don't like - in election years.

It's the classic Hill GOP dodge - "oh, there's too much opposition this year, so let's wait till next year after we get re-elected, then we'll make the tough decisions." Next year never comes because Democrats always oppose GOP reforms.

The Post piece, which you can read by clicking on the headline above this posting, puts the problem in a nutshell:

"Frist's comments came as lawmakers returned from a week-long break during which many held town meetings to discuss the president's Social Security plan. Some Republicans were shocked by the intensity of opposition expressed, while many Democrats seemed emboldened by the reaction."

The operative word here is "some," as in some GOPers were shocked that unnamed people were against the Bush proposal at town meetings. Oh my gosh, those woods are full of lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Of course, it apparently never occurs to GOP leaders like Frist that the one thing trade unions, teachers unions and liberal activists groups excel at is orchestrating people to demonstrate and complain loudly and insistently about all GOP reform proposals, and that these turnouts bear little connection to a genuine representation of public opinion. And there are always MSM reporters to provide an echo chamber to provide the illusion of genuinely significant movement in public opinion.

I've worked in the nation's capitol since 1976 as a press secretary on Capitol Hill and in the executive branch during the Reagan administration, then as a journalist and as a non-profit program manager. One of the constants over the years has been the maxim: With few exceptions, Republican leaders have no guts and they are absolutely terrified of upsetting Democrats.

That is why federal spending has exploded under GOP control of Congress. It is why not a single major government program has been terminated under the GOP. It is why Frist and the Senate GOP has no stomach for using the so-called "nuclear option" to end the Democrat minority's stranglehold on the judicial nomination process. It is why the biggest expansion of an entitlement program since the 1960s - Medicare - was approved by a GOP majority in Congress. The list goes on and on and on ...

Meanwhile, former KKK leader Sen. Robert Byrd, D-WV, stands up in the Senate, compares the Senate GOP to Hitler and the Nazis and the Senate GOP leadership .... does nothing?