The Note: The Last Time a New York Times Poll Write-up Was Positive for Republicans Was . . .

ByABC News
June 17, 2005, 3:04 PM

— -- WASHINGTON, June 17

In an homage to the kerygma of Katie and Tom, and to the ethos of Page Six, which is always "Just Asking . . . . "

The Note presents its regular Friday version of "Is it really true . . . . "

Some of these predicates we think are true . . . . others -- well, smart people we know believe they are true, but we're not so sure.

So we ask . . . .

Is It Really True . . . .

That Jackie Calmes' Wall Street Journal story on how Chairmen Grassley and Thomas have essentially given up on legislation to ensure permanent solvency is the must-read of the day? (The answer is: yes.)

That Sen. Jim DeMint is on the verge of becoming a major player on the Social Security legislation?

That Harry Reid's December 2004 "Meet the Press" comments on Antonin Scalia left enough wiggle room to avoid haunting him this summer?

That CAFTA seems to many lawmakers as good as dead in the House? That all the sugar props in the world aren't going to help it?

That the House of Representatives helped Bernie Sanders' Senate bid immeasurably?

That the White House is suddenly facing a diner's menu of options for The First Veto?

That "conference" will truly be the cure-all sedative for significant disputes about the highway bill, the Patriot Act, and the energy bill?

That one potential 2008 candidates may surprise folks with his stem cell vote?

That the William Pryor excoriated in Judge Roy Moore's book about his Alabama Ten Commandments fight is the same guy who conservatives just HAD to have confirmed?

That Bill Frist is more acceptable to some rank-and-file social conservatives than George Allen will be?

That Senate Democrats are close to giving up on Bolton?

That House Democrats really have a national security message they're about ready to unveil?

That Sen. Salazar is getting home-state heat for blocking Bush judges?

That the formation of the Change to Win Coalition has little bearing on the future of the AFL-CIO?

That trade associations are salivating over Pence-Wynn? And that unions are scared witless by it? And that Senate Democrats will filibuster that chamber's version of the legislation?

That Progress for America plans to spend more on a SCOTUS fight than they did/will on Social Security? And that its most significant impact will be in the states, on the phones, at in the mail -- not on TV?

That Karl Rove is going to be in Bruce Springsteen territory on Tuesday?

That the White House and Republicans really, really, really, don't want Katherine Harris to be their nominee for U.S. Senate in Florida?

That Gov. Schwarzenegger will spend the next four and a half months talking more about property tax increases than the actual initiatives on the November 8 special election ballot?

That Gifford Miller smiles real big every time Anson Kaye sends his "Anthony will have to remain in Washington tonight due to votes and will not be able to make it to tonight's events in the city" emails?

That the Political Unit's Marc Ambinder will take your questions in a live online chat at 1:00 pm ET? LINK

It is an undeniable, hard-as-nails fact that President Bush concludes the week with a trip to Minnesota, a state he lost narrowly in the 2004 presidential election. The President visits a senior center in Maple Grove at 10:40 am ET, followed by a speech on Medicare at 11:10 am ET.

ABC News' Linda Douglass reports that the Senate plans a vote to cut off debate on the Bolton nomination next Monday evening.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice kicks off her visit to the Middle East today with trips to the Palestinian West Bank, Jerusalem, Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Sunday morning, Secretary Rice is the guest on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

At 2:45 pm ET, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) spearheads a protest demanding the release of the Myanmar's imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi.

Disputes over Social Security continue with the Labor and Employment Relations Association's conference "Benefits at Risk: Meeting the Challenges of Providing Health Care Benefits and Retirement Income in the 21st Century," starting at 8:00 am ET. At 9:00 am ET, representative Jan Schakowksy (D-IL) will deliver remarks.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants holds a news conference to release its "World Refugee Survey 2005" at 10:00 am ET. The Cato Institute's Daniel Griswold and the Wall Street Journal's Steve Moore add their two cents to the immigration debate with a news briefing entitled "Immigration: The Economic Question" at noon ET.

The National Taxpayers Union kicks off its three-day National Taxpayers Conference at 7:45 am ET. Be sure to catch the remarks of Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Rep. Mike Pence (R-In.) at 8:15 am ET and 12:15 am ET respectively.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean speaks to the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin Conference in Houston. Tonight, he attends a DNC fundraiser at the home of Fred Baron in Dallas. Saturday, Dean attends a DNC grassroots fundraiser in Austin and then DemocracyFest at Stubb's Barbeque. LINK

Note to the Governor: at least taste the cornbread.

Tune in to Washington's WTOP today at 10:00 am ET today to hear Virginia State Sen. Russ Potts discuss his run as an independent in the soon-to-be-climactic Virginia gubernatorial race.

Sen. John McCain today delivers the commencement address at Northwestern University in Chicago.

And in case you've forgotten, Sunday is Father's Day. To celebrate, Sen. Barack Obama delivers the keynote address at Chicago's Christ Universal Temple at Sunday morning's service.

Not to trade in (semi-)obscure acronyms, but ALEC: move over. There's a new PLAN in state capitals. The Progressive Legislative Exchange Network plans to launch in August as a "new organization to support forward-thinking, progressive state legislators with the policy, communication, and strategic resources to help them fight the progressive battle at the state level." Former Sen. John Edwards already seems to be on board. LINK

Social Security:
Following up and revising (a bit) the Washington Post's reporting from yesterday, as well as breaking new ground, the Wall Street Journal's Jackie Calmes writes that "Congress's Republican leaders, convinced they are staring into the jaws of defeat on overhauling Social Security, are scrambling for an alternative approach to President Bush's top domestic priority that would allow him -- and them -- to seize some measure of victory."

"In coming weeks, the separate efforts of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas will determine whether even that is possible, numerous Republicans say. What has become clear after months of meetings with Republicans on their respective panels, however, is that their packages won't include Mr. Bush's proposal for personal accounts carved from Social Security payroll taxes and may not meet his demand to keep the program solvent."

"The two plans are still emerging but have several common concepts. Both would reduce future benefits for all but the poorest workers, much as Mr. Bush proposes. Both would raise the retirement age for full benefits, contingent on increases in Americans' lifespans. Both want to avoid raising payroll taxes."

"But both chairmen have given up on finding enough Republican votes, in the face of Democratic opposition, to pass Mr. Bush's proposal to let workers born in 1950 and after divert a third of the 12.4% Social Security payroll tax to private accounts, in return for reduced regular benefits. With Republicans including House Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois balking at having to vote for unpopular benefit trims, Mr. Bush's demand for 'permanent solvency' for Social Security also is increasingly unlikely to be met."

"Republicans say Mr. Bush's best hope is that Mr. Thomas can pass a solvency package with some modest accounts proposal in the House, which could yield a compromise with the Senate that sows the seed for the Bush-type accounts."

"In view of the president's problems, conservatives who favor private accounts are about to step in with their own alternative. Next week, Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina will introduce legislation, with support from third-ranking Senate leader Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, that shuns the solvency goal in favor of creating small private accounts from Social Security's current surpluses. Trustees project the program will start running annual deficits in 2017."