Monday, February 14, 2005

"Just so we're clear..."

Jim McCrery (R-La.), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Social Security, moves closer rhetorically to Bush's position on privatization. However, he does it more by omission, than by an affirmative statement of principle. See this item in today's Baton Rouge Advocate:

"Backing Bush

U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, R-Shreveport, is taking exception to a recent story by The Associated Press that claimed he was having reservations about President Bush's Social Security plan.

McCrery, who chairs the Subcommittee on Social Security, said he has not rejected any of Bush's recommendations.

'In fact, I am convinced that personal accounts are a necessary element of comprehensive reform (emphasis added),' McCrery said in a statement."

The "recent" AP story to which McCrery presumably refers is this piece from February 3:

"McCrery, R-La., said in an interview that he, too, would like to create personal accounts. But he said he favors paying for them with general revenue, leaving taxes collected for Social Security to pay for guaranteed Social Security benefits (emphasis added)."

However, it is not merely the AP which has McCrery on record expressing serious doubts as to whether Bush's plan is feasible or even fundamentally right. See Ron Brownstein's piece from the February 7 edition of the L.A. Times.

"Just as strikingly, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means subcommittee supposed to consider Bush's plan first, told reporters last week that the White House probably would need to abandon the idea of carving out part of the payroll tax for investment accounts (emphasis added)."

On record with seemingly contrasting statements within weeks of each other, it is difficult to know exactly where McCrery stands. His earlier statements indicate a profound disagreement with the president about diverting payroll taxes into private accounts. Also, note that today's quote in support of Bush does not address at all his criticism of using dedicated tax revenue to fund the accounts. Does today's statement indicate anything more than a desire to be seen as publicly supporting Bush in a broad, philosophical sense?

The "News Center" page of the McCrery's website contains no statement of support for Bush's Social Security privatization initiative. There is no information at all about Social Security on the entire website.