3/12/2005

Bush breaks like the wind as his road show makes its way across the USA

W's Social Security road show is starting to look like Spinal Tap's.

From the LA Times:
Despite near-unanimous Democratic opposition (to Social Security privatization) in Congress, Bush is trying to show that he can relate to those in the other party. He invited Rep. Harold Ford (D-Tenn.), who was given a seat in the third row at the morning event in his hometown of Memphis. Ford, who is running for the U.S. Senate next year, has said he opposes Bush's approach, but he favors private accounts as an addition to the current system. If Bush hoped to change Ford's mind, the congressman said later he was not impressed by the orchestrated event.
"That wasn't a conversation. It was more of an echo," said Ford, whom conservative backers of private accounts view as a potential future ally. "The president didn't allow any other points to be raised," Ford said. "I do hope if the president continues to do this, he will allow some pointed questions to be asked. This format's going to have to be changed for these conversations to be credible."
...Bush was interrupted several times by hecklers in Memphis, two of whom were removed by police officers.
...Political analysts said today it appeared that Bush was making headway in convincing Americans that Social Security faced long-term funding problems, but the more they learned about private investment accounts, the less they liked them. "People agree there is need for some kind of reform of the system," said conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis. "They just don't think they agree with what the president has proposed."
Bush's message, Bartlett said, was "extremely muddled and unclear and not very compelling." Greg Valliere, chief strategist for Stanford Washington Research Group, said it appeared that the president's focus on the potential rewards of letting younger workers invest part of their payroll taxes in stock and bonds was calling attention to the potential risks as well.
"People get nervous about tying their retirement to the market. The stock market has been very volatile the last few years," Valliere said. "The Bush plan is really on life support right now. I'm reluctant to say it's dead, but they haven't made the sale. They haven't made their case."

And Steve Soto asks:
Bush's "plan" is on "life support" and he is not making "a very compelling case?" And why exactly are Democrats cutting any deals with him at all on anything?

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