The Note: The Boy Looking for the Pony

"Noting that it had been only a month since the State of the Union speech, Nicolle Devenish, the White House communications director, said: 'If you look at what the president has been able to do in terms of elevating the issue, explaining a program riddled with terms like 'bend points' that are hard for busy families to wrap their brains around, the intensity with which we have engaged in the public campaign and the legislative process, we feel good about where we are. But we recognize there is much more to be done.'"

"Asked what Mr. Bush intended to do to keep the issue moving forward and bring some Democrats to his side, Ms. Devenish said: 'The president believes that once everyone has coalesced around the belief that there's a problem that has to be addressed, it will be something that invigorates members of both parties. Without the understanding and acceptance among the American public that we have to act now to strengthen Social Security, it will be very difficult to get to that point.'"

The Boston Globe's Rick Klein has more on the Democratic Social Security road show, and Notes that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says congressional Republicans didn't hold enough town meetings to sell the President's plan over the President's Day recess. LINK

Bloomberg's Brendan Murray and Heidi Przybyla take a great look at the role Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is playing in the Social Security campaign.

After surveying the political operation that is working to get the President's bidness done, the duo get this:

"'It seems to be about selling rather than listening,' says Paul O'Neill, Bush's first Treasury secretary. 'If it just turns out to be an athletic contest, then it's worthless.'"

And this:

"'We were told automatically to stop people that had protest signs, or any type of sign, and if they tried getting that in then we would ask to see their ticket and then rip it up,' says Jesse Branch, a 21-year-old volunteer usher at a rally Bush held in Great Falls, Montana, which was attended by Rove."

Steve Moore's Free Enterprise Fund sent a memo Tuesday to conservative activists full of criticism for the Administration's campaign to sell its Social Security initiatives and for those who oppose personal retirement accounts.

It was written by FEF economist Larry Hunter.

Excerpts:

"It's puzzling why the Administration isn't selling personal retirement accounts to the American public the way Ronald Reagan would have: on the grounds that the accounts will make workers' retirement more secure and more prosperous. Instead, the Administration lumbers about like a machine animated by the ghosts of David Stockman and Richard Darman opening the president to the charge that he wants seniors to give up a sure thing for a 'risky scheme;' making a collectivist appeal for communal sacrifice; preaching that a good dose of pain and suffering is the price workers must pay to 'make Social Security solvent;' and ridiculing personal-accounts advocates who believe otherwise as the 'free lunch crowd.'"

"If one starts with the objective of making an inherently contradictory program solvent, he ends up with proposals that contradict the original intent, namely to place Social Security on a sound, market-based footing that increases retirement security and raises the standard of living for America's retirees."

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