Republicans and Democrats made their cases to address the Social Security puzzle, and the NY Times was there:
SOUTH BEND, Ind., March 4 - Stepping into a rapidly escalating battle for public support, President Bush tried to jumpstart his uphill drive for personal Social Security accounts on Friday, asserting that the retirement system requires a drastic change and challenging skeptics to put their own ideas forward. Despite widespread evidence that the public is wary of changes to the benefits system, Mr. Bush did not retreat from his plan to divert some payroll taxes into individual accounts.
"Jumpstart"? Don't you hate it when writers pass on a chance to use the word "revivify"? But we are heartened by the bold talk of "did not retreat"! Stand tall, George!
The Times continues the "Stand tall, even if you stand alone" theme here:
Mr. Bush appeared to relish confronting his opponents head-on, as he has in past political fights. He promised to keep telling voters Social Security is headed for disaster "until it sinks in."
"I'm going to keep saying it all around the country," he told an audience of hundreds of supporters at the New Jersey Army National Guard Armory in Westfield. "I like doing this, by the way - I like going around the country, saying, 'Folks, we have got a problem.' "
Later, at a similar event at the University of Notre Dame, a site that signified the White House plans to capture support for this program among younger voters, Mr. Bush expressed even more bravado. "Someone said, 'It's a steep hill to climb, Mr. President,' " Mr. Bush said. "Well my attitude is, the steeper the better. Because when you get to the top, you realize you've left a significant contribution behind."
Was the Times reporter hearing the music from "Rocky" during the event? Might the White House be able to re-market this as George Bush, the battling underdog, against the entrenched forces of the status quo? Dems would have to be pretty stupid to let that happen (so we can't rule it out...).
Meanwhile, we can feel the energy rocking the joint at the Dem presentation:
On Friday, Democrats pressed that case again.
"If we did nothing with Social Security," said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic leader, at a highly publicized event in New York with many leading Democrats, "Social Security would pay 100 percent of benefits for the next 50 years."
There's a compelling message! And I'm sure it's especially reassuring to twenty- and thirty-somethings.
But wait, there's more:
At their event in New York, Democratic senators acknowledged that the retirement system faced deficits in the longer run, but their only solution, suggested by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, was to scrap scheduled income tax cuts for wealthier Americans.
"If you take privatization off the table, we'll be happy to sit down and talk about the future," Mr. Reid said.
"The bottom line is, Bush says it's a crisis," Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York said. "We're saying, it can take a little study."
I bet that brought the crowd to it feet!
Day One (or whatever - please tell me it's Day Fifty Nine) seems, at least in Timesworld, to have tipped for Bush.
Rich Lowry at The Corner likes Bush's decision to accentuate the degree of difficulty he is facing, so I guess we are both on board with the marketing theme.