The Note: Advice and Dissent

On "This Week" Sunday, Sen. Ted Kennedy joins George Stephanopoulos to talk about Social Security and judicial appointments and Treasury Secretary John Snow talks about the economy and the "60 stops in 60 days" Social Security tour. Joining George Will in the roundtable: the New York Times' John Tierney and former NAACP president Kwiesi Mfume.

Happy 79th birthday (Sunday), Chairman Greenspan.

Social Security: the politics:

The Washington Post's Chuck Babington and Mike Allen look at Senate Majority Leader Frist's abrupt about-face on the Senate floor yesterday, saying that the Social Security overhaul needs to happen this year -- a sharp contrast from his comments on Tuesday that the vote might not happen this year that without question prompted a flurry of phone calls and a stern talking to. For their part, Democratic Senators appear to be finding a collective backbone with their letter to the President saying that private accounts need to be taken off the table -- a gimme handed to them earlier this week by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Meanwhile the spinning continues. LINK

Robin Toner of the New York Times rounds up the day's news, with the President's show of confidence, Democratic unity, and Frist and Grassley walk-backs. LINK

The Washington Times' Amy Fagan Notes congressional Republicans recommitment to the President's Social Security plan and getting it passed this year -- as evidenced by the Frist/Grassley back-tracks. LINK

The Des Moines Register's Jane Norman examines how Sen. Grassley's comments about taking personal accounts off the table rocked the White House, but his office said there was no contact from the Administration, and he told Iowa reporters he hasn't backed off his statements. LINK

The Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire says: "Republican National Committee touts new poll showing "shift of historic proportions" away from Democrats on the issue, but bruised lawmakers want stronger party 'grass-roots' effort for upcoming Easter recess. Because so many districts are strongly partisan, ex-Reagan strategist Rollins says, Republicans probably can't lose the House in any case unless many senior lawmakers decide to retire next year."

As Democratic lawmakers get their Social Security road show underway, the DNC is getting into the act with its first paid media foray in this legislative fight -- two 60-second radio ads titled "Cuts" going after the President on his plan. The party claims it is a "real" ad buy with significant money behind it, but for now, it is tailor-made for free media coverage because it will run in the states to which Mr. Bush plans to travel. The scripts vary only with the Congressmen they urge voters to contact: Rep. Chris Chocola in South Bend, IN, and Rep. Mike Ferguson in Westfield, NJ.

Script:

"CUTS"

This week President Bush brought his risky plan for Social Security to South Bend -- a plan that would end Social Security's guaranteed benefits and tie our retirement savings to the ups and downs of the stock market.

How does President Bush plan to pay for this risky scheme you ask.

First, he'll borrow $4.5 trillion from foreign countries. Then he'll cut benefits by up to 40%.

Cutting benefits and borrowing trillions from foreign nations won't solve Social Security problems -- it WILL make them worse.

Call Congressman X at X and tell him tell him you do not want your benefits cut.

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