The Note: The Boy Looking for the Pony

At 11:00 am ET,'s Eli Pariser, Tom Matzzie, and Laura Dawn hold a conference call to announce the launch of their new national contest to produce a Macromedia Flash animation, game, or interactive application that shows how President Bush's plan for personal accounts will affect -- or in their words, "gut" -- the Social Security system. And like last year's "Bush in 30 Seconds" TV ad contest, this one has celebrity judges -- which is one of the reasons we're sure so many people clicked instantly when the name "Cusack" showed up in their inboxes. The judges: actor/activist John Cusack, "Boondocks" creator Aaron McGruder, Al Franken, and Arianna Huffington. LINK

Gen. James Jones Jr., commander, U.S. European Command and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe; Gen. John Abizaid, commander, U.S. Central Command; Gen. Bryan Brown, commander, United States Special Operations Command, testify before the House Armed Services Committee at 10:00 am ET.

At 9:15 am ET, the Senate continues its debate on the bankruptcy bill.

The House Appropriations Committee considers the Pentagon budget at 1:30 pm ET.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff testifies on his department's budget at 2:00 pm ET.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee marks up the Clear Skies Act at 9:30 am ET.

Today, Rep. Marty Meehan plans to introduce legislation to repeal the ban on gays in the military. Forty cosponsors are on board, accordiing to Meehan' s spokesman.

Social Security:

The Los Angeles Times' Richard Simon looks at the careful backpedaling by Senate Majority Leader Frist and House Majority Leader DeLay on whether the President's Social Security plan can make it through Congress this year. LINK

The Washington Post's Mike Allen and Chuck Babington analyze the Frist bomb and seem not to have found one Republican in the entire universe to say something optimistic.

"That a politician as closely allied to the White House as Frist would even raise the possibility of putting off the proposal until next year -- possibly dooming it -- was an unexpected blow to the administration." LINK

"In another sign of the difficulty in selling the package Bush has outlined, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said in a radio interview that he thinks workers should be able to divert only about half as much in payroll taxes to new personal investment accounts as the White House has suggested. Under Bush's proposal, workers younger than 55 who opt to participate in the program would be able to divert as much as 4 percent of income subject to Social Security taxation into individual investment accounts, beginning in 2009."

Writes Dick Stevenson in the New York Times, "Democrats, apparently feeling little political pressure to come up with a plan of their own or work across the aisle, remain remarkably united against the main element of Mr. Bush's plan: his call for private investment accounts to be carved out of Social Security payroll taxes." LINK

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