The Note: Bet the Ranch

5. Another safe bet: Part of the reason for (4) is that progressive indexing is going to end up being more like 50 percent of the solvency solution than 70%, and that has implications too obvious to state. (See, among others, Jed Graham's Investor's Business Daily story. LINK)

And another part of the reason for (4) is that Paul Krugman and others are going to continue to attack progressive indexing as a hit-too-big on the middle class and as a Trojan horse to turn Social Security into a program for the poor.

6. And/but it is a also a safe bet that you probably missed two major developments in the last 96 hours that are extraordinarily positive for efforts by the White House to change Social Security for future retirees.

First, Friday's announcement by the Powerful Chairman of the Powerful Ways and Means Committee (Bill Thomas) that the House will move forward on hearings and a bill without waiting for the Senate to act is huge news.

For one thing, it means forward movement (which is by definition -- in the face of the CW and the polls -- progress), the main thing the White House needs now to buy time and look for some breaks.

Second, it shows that the House leadership and rank and file are willing to continue to see themselves holding hands with (or "being handcuffed to") the President as they walk down what they hope is a road to reform (rather than a plank to a 2006 drop in some alligator-infested water).

That same quiet and determined sense of entwined political fate and shared ideological purpose can also be seen in the near-universal Republican acceptance of putting progressive indexing on the table -- which is also evidence of strong White House coordination. Even those Republicans who made it clear that they don't much like the idea (See George Allen and Sam Brownback weekend comments.), didn't throw down any gauntlets, draw any lines in the sand, or use the phrase "deal breaker."

7. A safe 2007/8 bet: If Hillary Clinton runs for president, part of the "we told you so" message will involve North Korea.

8. And another: Pat Robertson's apparent preference for Rudy Giuliani over John McCain for president has tons of implications. But we don't know what those implications are.

President Bush delivers remarks today at the Preserve America Presidential Awards in the Rose Garden at 10:30 am ET. Tomorrow he'll talk up his Social Security plan at the Nissan plant in Canton, MS.

Social Security is on the agenda again Wednesday, when the President speaks to the Latino Coalition's Small Business Conference in Washington, DC, before he and First Lady Laura Bush attend a Cinco de Mayo dinner.

On Thursday, the President makes remarks on the National Day of Prayer, and then meets with the President of Nigeria.

On Friday, President Bush heads to Europe, where he'll be until May 10, visiting Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, and Georgia to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. In Riga, Latvia, President Bush will meet the Presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in addition to a bilateral program.

In the Netherlands, the President will hold bilateral meetings and commemorate Victory in Europe Day at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten near Maastricht.

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