Thursday, January 13, 2005

Suggestions for winning the Social Security battle

I highly recommend this TNR piece by Ryan Lizza that shows what the Democrats could learn from the Republican's successful derailing of Clinton's Health Care Plan in the upcoming battle over Bush's Social Security "Reform". Here are the main points (read the article, please):

1. Become masters of parliamentary procedure. Don't let the Republicans slip "reform" through in a reconciliation bill. Conversely, learn how to use parliamentary procedures to tie up the "reform" bill as long as possible. Which leads to...

2. Delay, delay, delay. The longer it takes Bush to get this through congress the harder it will be to get it passed. Like pushing a rock through mud, the rock will get heavier as it picks up more and more dirt. And the closer the 2006 elections come the more Republicans will balk at the idea of taking on this big a task right before they go home and ask the voters to send them back to Washington.

3. Beat Bush on other matters and beating him on this will be even easier. There is an argument among Democrats now about whether they should "keep their powder dry". The theory behind this argument is that the Democrats have limited ability to defeat Bush's initiatives, so they should only fight hard on the most important of issues (such as Supreme Court nominees). Lizza points out that the Republicans understood that "defeat breeds defeat":

Many Democrats today argue that their route back to power depends on transforming themselves into a party of reform. Some of these Democrats are scared that mere opposition--and denying Bush's claim that Social Security faces a "crisis"--hampers their efforts. But Republicans faced the same challenge in the early '90s and found that the two goals were not mutually exclusive. They didn't just kill health care reform, they used its corpse as a platform to redefine themselves as a reform movement that swept away the Democratic majority.

4. The fight over Social Security is part of a broader fight over control of the country's destiny. Whoever wins this fight could define the political direction of this country for the next decade, at least. The Republicans understand this already, witness the comment in the leaked Social Security planning memo where it talked about this fight being the best opportunity for Republicans to supplant FDR's place in the political heavens. Democrats have to understand that this battle is bigger than just Social Security.

Politicians like to talk about how they want to do something significant, be there for the really important battles.

Well, here it is folks. Times' a-waisting!


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