Thursday, February 24, 2005

CAF Targets McCrery - State Democrats AWOL

Why are non-party organizations making all the headlines for opposing Social Security privatization? Where is the Democratic Party?

The Campaign for America's future is criticizing Jim McCrery (R-Louisiana) for shifting his position on President Bush's plan to partially privatize Social Security. McCrery, the congressman from Louisiana's 4th district, is chairman of the Social Security subcommittee of House Ways and Means. First he spoke out against private accounts, now he is at least open to the idea.

The following is from an entire page about McCrery on the CAF website:

Rep. McCrery's Top Five Commercial Bank and Securities Contributors:

1. American Bankers Association: $14,500

2. Bank of America: $12,500

3. Wachovia: $8,000

4. Morgan Stanley: $7,000

5. J.P. Morgan: $3,000

Total contributions to McCrery from commercial banks and securities (2000-2004): $198,650

This is a strong, agressive step by a partisan group opposed to the phasing out of Social Security. The group is even circulating an online petition to call attention to what it says is McCrery's clear conflict-of-interest on private accounts.

But, why is it left to The CAF to take this step? Why is AARP making more news than the DNC? Where is the Democratic Party?

Where is the Louisiana Democratic Party, to be more precise? One might assume that the Democrats in Congressman McCrery's home state would be front and center on this one. One would be wrong.

Take a look at the home page of the Louisiana Democratic Party website.

Not one word about Social Security that can be attributed directly to the state party. The best the site offers is a link to a press release from the DNC and to a story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune about the CAF's move to put a spotlight on McCrery.

Perhaps this is to be expected of a state Democratic Party led Jim Bernhard, founder and CEO of The Shaw Group, a Fortune 500 company based in Baton Rouge. The state party website proudly features a Times-Picayune story containing the following passage:

"We need not to have a Republican or Democratic agenda. We need to look forward to having a Louisiana agenda for all people," Bernhard declared as he accepted the nomination last month, basically announcing his intent to steer toward the center.

We "need not" have a Democratic agenda. Well. How badly do we need a Democratic Party, then?

In Louisiana, at least, nothing has changed since this site conducted its survey of state Democratic Party affiliates nationwide. Back then, we discovered that only 17 of the country's 51 state Democratic Party chapters had even bothered to post a statement online in opposition to privatization.


As of this posting, the LA Democratic Party still has no original statement on its website about McCrery and/or Social Security, but it is circulating this e-mail newsletter.

February 24, 2005

Dear Friends,

As you may have already heard, President Bush is proposing to privatize Social Security, a move that would result in deep benefit cuts and create massive new debt. Using the action alert tools on our website, contact your elected representatives and urge them not to support President Bush’s detrimental privatization proposal. Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about how President Bush's proposal is wrong for Louisiana.

Congressman Jim McCrery (R-LA) of Shreveport, Chairman of the Social Security subcommittee and a lead architect of the Republican privatization plan, came under fire this week for his ties to Wall Street firms who stand to benefit significantly from the privatization plan. Read the full article about McCrery's ties to Wall Street below. Check out the Social Security Calculator from Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Minority Leader. Also, visit the Campaign for America's Future website or attend a congressional town hall meeting. Feel free to use the talking points below to let your voice be heard.

- Deep Benefit Cuts: The Republican privatization proposal undermines retirement security for all Americans by cutting guaranteed Social Security benefits by more than 40%.

- Massive New Debt: Privatization would drain trillions of dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund, and creating private accounts requires borrowing more than $2 trillion from countries like China and Japan. Paying back this debt will fall on the shoulders of young people today.

- Bush's plan cuts benefits even if you don't sign up for a risky private account.

- A young worker today would lose about $152,000 in benefits under the leading privatization plan.

- We can strenghten Social Security without cutting benefits. People deserve to recieve the benefits that they worked so hard to earn.

- A Guaranteed Retirement Benefit: Social Security ensures a guaranteed flow of retirement income for both you and your parents. The guaranteed benefit helps ensure that every American is able to live their retirement years with dignity and independence.

- Stable Source of Income: Social Security is designed to be the stable portion of a retirement portfolio to help seniors maintain a basic standard of living.