The Note: Pumpin' Up the Volume, Breakin' Down to the Beat

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told USA Today's William Welch that private investment accounts "are being oversold," and he foresees compromise on the issue in President Bush's future, calling the borrowing necessary for transition costs "the Achilles' heel" of the program. LINK

". . . Graham, R-S.C., said Bush and Republicans who control Congress eventually will have to agree to increase Social Security revenue, such as by lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes. And he said the key to closing the program's future money gap is changing the way benefits are calculated to slow their growth for future retirees."

Fletcher of the Washington Post also takes a look at how President Bush is framing the issue of race as he promotes his Social Security plan, calling the current system unfair to African-Americans, given the statistically shorter life expectancy of black Americans, and focusing on private accounts as a way to transfer and build wealth between generations. LINK

From John Harwood's Washington Wire in the Wall Street Journal:

"California Democrat Feinstein joins bipartisan group of seven assembled by South Carolina Republican Graham. For now, staffers seek 'principles' for agreement, not specifics. At recent retreat, House Democratic 'Blue Dogs' were near-unanimous against creating private accounts from Social Security taxes; the one backer, Florida Rep. Boyd, opposes big borrowing. But ex-Democratic Rep. Penny, a private-accounts advocate cited by Bush in his State of the Union speech, predicts 'the power of the presidency' will win out.' Bush's elevation of strategist Rove stokes Democratic skepticism about bipartisan outreach."

Mary Williams Walsh writes of indexing and trust fund deburdening in the New York Times. It's a good primer. LINK

Big Casino budget politics: tax cuts:

Reports . . . yes . . . reports . . . the Wall Street Journal's editorial board:

"No one is admitting this in public yet, but our sources tell us that's the political reality. The usual Republican suspects from New England are opposed, John McCain is sending out negative signals, and the truth is that even the White House is reluctant to push for tax cuts early, before the hard slog on Social Security. The Rovian strategy seems to be to wait until the great tax reform debate next year, when all tax issues will be resolved and rates are reduced to even lower levels. And, who knows, stranger things have happened."

And read what the Journal has to say about the death tax:

"By the way, we're told there are also talks going on behind the scenes about a compromise on death-tax repeal, now set to occur in 2010 for one year only before tax rates snap back to the confiscatory levels of 2001. Such Democrats as Florida's Bill Nelson -- up for re-election next year -- appreciate the power of the issue enough that they say they'll vote for total repeal. But we suspect that once the vote climbs close to 60 some of those Democratic votes would vanish faster than silence at a lawyers' convention."

Bush agenda:

Senate passes class action. Check. LINK

House passes tough immigration ID legislation; Fight with Senate ahead; guest worker program dead? LINK

But Sen. Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi, said, "The president's guest worker program is not going anywhere, period.' Mr. Lott added: 'He needs to go ahead and accept it. We are not going to do anything that looks like, smells like or in anyway resembles amnesty, period.'"

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