The Note: Carving Out the Carve-Outs?

Novak goes on to say in his must read that the reason Republican lawmakers got hostile receptions to the President's Social Security plan when they held town meetings in their home districts was because of the work of the AARP and organized labor, and Notes that conservatives may have to swallow a big, bitter pill to get the overhaul done. LINK

Democrats are, as you can imagine, quite pleased about all this.

The New York Times' Adam Nagourney and Janet Elder write-up of the New York Times' poll leads breathlessly:

"Americans say President Bush does not share the priorities of most of the country on either domestic or foreign issues, are increasingly resistant to his proposal to revamp Social Security and say they are uneasy with Mr. Bush's ability to make the right decisions about the retirement program, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll." LINK

It continues: "The poll underscores just how little headway Mr. Bush has made in his effort to build popular support as his proposal for overhauling Social Security struggles to gain footing in Congress . . ."

"On Social Security, 51 percent said permitting individuals to invest part of their Social Security taxes in private accounts, the centerpiece of Mr. Bush's plan, was a bad idea, even as a majority said they agreed with Mr. Bush that the program would become insolvent near the middle of the century if nothing was done. The number who thought private accounts were a bad idea jumped to 69 percent if respondents were told that the private accounts would result in a reduction in guaranteed benefits. And 45 percent said Mr. Bush's private account plan would actually weaken the economic underpinnings of the nation's retirement system."

"In a sign of the political obstacles confronting the White House, a majority of those surveyed said they would support raising the amount of income subject to Social Security payroll tax above its current ceiling of $90,000, an idea floated by Mr. Bush but shot down by Republican Congressional leaders."

Democrats are, as you can imagine, quite pleased about all this.

The New York Times' Richard Stevenson Notes John Snow's (apparent) openness to the add-on alternative. And he quotes Clay Shaw as acknowledging that the public is just not ready yet for personal accounts and/but they are being scared by those Demo-crats. LINK

But hold on a second.

"Despite polls showing support for the plan slipping, Bush is confident he is winning the first phase of the public debate over Social Security and has no plans to significantly alter his strategy for enacting the most dramatic changes ever to the venerable system, said senior White House officials who have talked to Bush. Several congressional Republicans, however, said they do not share Bush's optimism and questioned his strategy for enacting changes this year," write Mike Allen and Jim VandeiHei in the Washington Post. LINK

And, re, Snow's add-on float: "White House officials are privately telling Republicans that Bush is opposed to the idea but does not want to say so because it would appear he is not willing to compromise."

Why senior White House officials are telling reporters the President's private thoughts is for you and we to guess.

And Note the Frist/Santorum/Snow internal brick-a-brack.

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