This is no reason to let our guard down, but it should allow for some cautious optimism
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) predicted yesterday that partisan warfare over Social Security will quickly render President Bush's plan "a dead horse" and called on Congress to undertake a broader review of the problems of an aging nation.
Thomas, one of Capitol Hill's most powerful figures on tax policy, is the highest-ranking House Republican official to cast doubt on the president's plan for creating individual investment accounts. He said that as an alternative, he will consider changes such as replacing the payroll tax as Social Security's financing mechanism and adding a savings plan for long-term or chronic care as "an augmentation to Social Security payments."
Reid responds immediately (that war room thing again):
The President's plan is a `dead horse' not because of partisan politics but because it is a privatization plan based on massive benefit cuts, risky Wall Street accounts and $2 trillion in new debt. It will undermine Social Security at a time when we should be looking to strengthen the program and help Americans save.
And if a 50 percent benefit cut is not enough, now we learn Republicans are aiming to push even deeper cuts for America's women. Any suggestion that women do not deserve the same benefits as men is just plain wrong.
Wait, what's that about women? Back to the WaPo piece:
Perhaps most provocatively, Thomas said lawmakers should debate whether Social Security benefits should differ for men and women, because women live longer. "We never have debated gender-adjusting Social Security," he said. A House leadership official said that not even Republicans on Thomas's committee would vote for that idea. Thomas also said the system might take into account the need of blue-collar workers to retire younger than office workers.
Woah! Where did this come from? Obviously Thomas knows something about Bush's plan that we don't.
Thomas may have saved his party some major heartache in 2006. Because if Bush's plan had included different benefits calculations for men and women...