Republicans from Poor Districts Skeptical of Bush Social Security Plan
State lawmakers offer praise, not sold on Social Security (Montgomery Advertiser)
Most Alabama lawmakers praised President Bush’s address to the nation Wednesday night, but some remained skeptical about his ambitious plans. “I’m going to be a pretty hard sell,” said Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Anniston, of Bush’s proposal to overhaul Social Security. Rogers is usually loyal to the White House. His misgivings about Bush’s plan to allow Americans to invest part of their Social Security contributions in private accounts indicates how difficult it will be for Bush to sell the proposal.
While Bush can’t run for the White House again, Rogers and his House colleagues face re-election next year. Some are nervous about tampering with a system that Americans say is working well.
Rogers said the president’s plan was “too risky” for his constituents. “I represent a poor district,” he said, nonetheless praising Bush for attempting to strengthen Social Security. “I applaud him for getting this up on the table,” Rogers said.
Rep. Terry Everett, R-Rehobeth, also praised Bush for raising the issue. “I agree there is a crisis in the making in Social Security and that it would be the height of irresponsibility to simply ignore Social Security, as many Democrats advocate,” he said. “The president is right to raise the issue and stimulate a national discussion.” But Everett said he’d withhold his support until he heard more about Bush’s plan.
Rep. Jo Bonner, R-Mobile, also said he’s “not necessarily ready to sign off” on the president’s plan, but is keeping an open mind. “Social Security is one of the most popular programs, but if it’s now shored up and protected, it’s not guaranteed,” Bonner said. “I’m willing to listen.”
Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Tuscaloosa, said he is “keeping his powder dry” until more details are revealed about the president’s plan. He said he is “skeptical of any plan that places a significant burden on future generations and could endanger the economic well-being of the country.” “The principles sound good but we have to see the details,” Shelby said.
But Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Mobile, said he is willing to embrace Bush’s plans right now. “I have no doubt that we can change Social Security to make it better by doing something like the president’s plan,” he said. Sessions also said he was impressed by Bush’s call to leave future generations with “an America that is safe from danger and protected by peace.”
via Josh Marshall
Rogers is my parents’ congressman and a true blue Republican, as is Everett. Sessions is the only true Movement Conservative in the bunch. (I know next to nothing about Bonner.) Still, if the president can’t carry these guys, he has no chance of getting his reforms passed. Of course, that’s probably true, anyway, given that Democrats would almost certainly filibuster in the Senate if it was going to pass.