The Note: Mistaking Obstructionism for Progress

Also on Saturday, Sen. Sam Brownback presents True Blue awards, Manchester, NH, and Sen. George Allen speaks at the Reed Center in Midwest City, OK. Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) keynotes the Michigan Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner, Detroit, MI.

The National Association of Broadcasters opens its convention on Saturday, lasting until next Thursday, in Las Vegas, NV.

Social Security:

"The debate over Social Security has managed to drown out other longstanding issues in American society, including the widening gap between rich and poor and surging health-care costs," writes Greg Ip in the Wall Street Journal. "Yet these two phenomena play an important, though little appreciated, role in Social Security's problems. That is because they are eroding the base of taxable wages available to support Social Security benefits."

The Los Angeles Times' Tom Hamburger writes that the February meeting between White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and business lobbyists about the President's Social Security plan did the trick in securing the support of trade associations -- nearly 100 state and national groups have joined CoMPASS and are on board, even though many individual companies are choosing to sit out the fight. But some are casting a wary eye on the alliance. LINK

"Each Friday, the RNC hosts representatives from the Business Roundtable -- made up of chief executives from 160 of the country's best-known corporations -- Compass and aligned organizations, along with staff from Rove's office.

"At these meetings, RNC staff tally their efforts to build support for the president's plan in key congressional districts. Compass offers similar campaign-style reports. The group's executive director, Derrick Max, said in an interview that his organization had generated 300,000 telephone calls to voters in key states on Social Security, organized 150 town hall meetings on the topic and is active in 70 congressional districts. It plans to spend $18 million backing the president's initiative."

"At the Business Roundtable, communications director Tita Freeman says her organization supports Bush's initiative not to side with the GOP but because 'it is the right thing to do for future generations. We are joining with any and every group that believes that this needs to be addressed now,' she said."

"Nonetheless, the Republican tilt has caught the wary eye of Democratic Party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and his staff have met with a few of the leading trade groups and questioned their close association with the White House campaign."

Rick Klein of the Boston Globe writes of the bonded Democratic Party when it comes to Social Security reform and other GOP legislation. LINK

" . . . 100 days into the new Congress, Democrats have rarely strayed from the party fold. Senate Democrats for the first time have a communications team that operates out of a ''war room" on the third floor of the Capitol, an innovation that has helped solidify opposition to changing Social Security and to some of Bush's conservative judicial nominees. Democrats have resisted calls to offer a competing proposal to overhaul Social Security, preferring to attack Bush's plan."

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