May 5, 2005

Rep. Bill Thomas vs. E.J. Dionne, Jr.

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas ...

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas cautioned Democrats to drop preconditions on their willingness to negotiate a bill that shores up Social Security.

Democrats in the House and Senate have said they won't discuss any plan that includes President George W. Bush's proposal for private investment accounts using the Social Security payroll tax.

"You can't rule out anything or you're never going to be able to make law," Thomas said in an interview. "The minute you start ruling out stuff at the beginning of the process it means you've already narrowed your options and it's hard enough to make law in this environment."
E.J. Dionne, Jr. ...

The game is also fixed because the president has narrowed the range of Social Security options to protect his most questionable policy choices. Some press reports have suggested that Bush's willingness to cut Social Security benefits for the wealthy turned him into some latter-day Karl Marx, or at least Ted Kennedy.

This is nonsense. Bush has refused to put his own tax cuts on the table as part of a Social Security fix. Repealing Bush's tax cuts for those earning over $350,000 a year could cover all or most of the 75-year Social Security shortfall. Keeping part of the estate tax in place could cover a quarter to half of the shortfall. Some of the hole could be filled in by a modest surtax on dividends or capital gains.

But Bush is resolute about protecting the interests of the truly rich by making sure that any taxes on wealth are ruled out of the game from the beginning. The Social Security cuts he is proposing for the wealthy are a pittance compared with the benefits they get from his tax cuts. The president is keeping his eye on what really matters to him.
Rep. Bill Thomas who are you trying to fool, it is the Republican party who has preconditions to negotiate a bill that shores up Social Security. Your tax cuts for the most wealthiest Americans are off the table, which narrows our options. It is hypocritical to tell Democrats to not to have any preconditions on Social Security when it is your refusal to repeal the Bush tax cuts which would lead to a shore up Social Security.

E.J Dionne, Jr is right, the game is FIX!

Terence Samuel of the American Prospect wrote an article about Bill Thomas.
What he’s looking for is one more vote than the other side, and on that front he has some history. As Ways and Means Committee chair, Thomas has successfully crafted some of the most contentious legislation to pass the Congress -- and by some of the narrowest margins -- in recent years. Four years ago, he led the fight for a trade-promotion bill giving President Bush negotiating authority not reviewable by the Congress. It passed by one vote, 215 to 214. In 2003, it was Thomas again leading the fight to reform Medicare and add a prescription-drug benefit. That led to the now-famous 2-hour-and-51-minute vote than began at 3 a.m. It was supposed to be a 15-minute vote, and for more than an hour, the plan appeared dead, with the scoreboard reading 218 to 216 against. But the GOP leadership kept the vote open, twisting arms and getting the president to make early-morning phone calls to flip a few GOP members from no to yes. In the end the GOP prevailed, 220 to 215. Sixteen Democrats defected and voted for that bill.

That won’t happen again, Democrats say. They insist that the disarray that has characterized the GOP effort on Social Security so far will continue even when there is an actual bill, and they say that they are eager to have Republicans go on record with a proposal that reduces benefits. Still, they know they have to watch out for Bill Thomas.

“We don’t have anybody like him on our side,” said one Democratic House aide, and he wasn’t saying it proudly.
Bill Thomas know how to get things done, not matter what. He is going to try to ram President Bush so called so called retirement bill thru the House.

This time Bill Thomas and the Republican party might over play their hand, and the retirement bill might become a congressional retirement bill for the GOP.


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