Contact: Brad Woodhouse or Cara Morris
Anti-Privatization Team, Groups Turns to Budget Cuts,
Tax Cuts Fight
Overhaul Foes Turn Their Attention to Budget Cuts
NBC’s First Read
Congressional Quarterly, 10 Signs Social Security
Plan is Dead (for Now)
Security Overhaul Foes Turn Their Attention to Budget
By Alex Wayne, CQ Staff
The people who brought you
Americans United to Protect Social Security — the
interest group that helped derail President Bush’s plans
for a Social Security overhaul — have found a new
pursuit: pushing Congress to reconsider reconciliation,
the package of spending and tax cuts lawmakers will be
writing in the next couple weeks.
“It could not be a more
inappropriate time in American history to be cutting
taxes for the wealthy and cutting social welfare
programs that primarily benefit the poor and the middle
class, but by God, that’s what the Republicans are
hell-bent on doing,” said Brad Woodhouse, the spokesman
for Americans United to Protect Social Security. “And
ECAP has been formed to try to prevent that,” he said,
referring to the group’s new incarnation as the
Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities.
Congress is not in session
this week and Monday was a federal holiday; spokeswomen
for the House and Senate Budget committees could not be
As it has become clear
that Congress is unlikely to act on Social Security this
year, Americans United — founded and funded by labor
unions and a coalition of liberal interest groups — has
seen its fundraising slow and its staff shrink. They are
down to a core group of four people, Woodhouse said, who
will continue to monitor the Social Security debate for
signs of life — “particularly anything [House Ways and
Means Chairman] Bill Thomas might try.”
But Democrats and their
interest-group allies consider the group, with its
quickly assembled network of state affiliates, a model
for a successful “issues campaign.” To defeat Bush’s
Social Security proposals, the group combined a
Washington-based lobbying and media campaign with
political campaigns targeted at individual lawmakers in
their home districts.
Americans United helped
persuade several Republican rank-and-file House members,
such as Missouri’s Jo Ann Emerson, Pennsylvania’s Jim
Gerlach and Illinois’ Jerry Weller, to publicly disavow
Social Security plans proposed by Bush or Republican
lawmakers. Many other Republicans — facing protests by
the group outside their district offices — never took a
public position on Social Security, also helping to sap
momentum for an overhaul.
So Democrats have hoped to
use the model to fight further issues battles. In the
wake of Hurricane Katrina, the planned spending and tax
cuts have emerged as a natural target.
The fiscal 2006 budget
resolution (H Con Res 95) calls for $35 billion in
spending cuts and $70 billion in tax cuts. House Speaker
J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., proposed Oct. 6 to amend the
budget to add another $15 billion in cuts to offset the
costs of the Katrina recovery.
have been told to report the spending-cut bills by Oct.
17. The tax cut legislation will follow.
So ECAP is acting rapidly,
staging at least seven events this week around the
country aimed at lawmakers it considers wavering on the
spending and tax cuts. Its targets include moderate
Republicans such as Sens. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and
lawmakers engaged in statewide election campaigns next
year such as House Budget Chairman Jim Nussle, R-Iowa,
who is running for governor. The group has events
planned in both states, according to a list distributed
to campaign members.
The group’s financial
backers include the American Federation of State, County
and Municipal Employees, the labor union that helped
found Americans United; the AFL-CIO; the liberal
interest group Campaign for America’s Future; and
advocacy groups such as the Coalition on Human Needs and
the Food Research and Action Center.
Source: CQ Today
Round-the-clock coverage of news from Capitol Hill.
© 2005 Congressional Quarterly Inc. All Rights Reserved.
NBC's First Read
October 11, 2005
That said, a coalition of
labor, consumer, and liberal groups are banding together
in an effort to get members of Congress -- mostly
Republicans -- to back off proposed cuts in social
programs as offsets to spending on hurricane relief. The
Emergency Campaign for American Priorities (ECAP)
basically wants to do to the budget reconciliation
process what Americans United to Protect Social Security
did to Bush's proposed private accounts: build
opposition to the proposed cuts among the public and
lawmakers through PR, field, and lobbying efforts. ECAP
spokesperson Brad Woodhouse -- one of the many same
Democratic operatives who worked on the Americans United
effort and who are now working for ECAP -- concedes to
First Read that this attempt will be more complicated
than their previous one. But, Woodhouse charges, "It's
immoral to be talking about cutting social welfare
programs and use Katrina as the reason," when the cuts
"were all included in the original budget, and then turn
around and be hell-bent on tax cuts for the rich."
An ECAP source says the
organization plans to target about 15 US senators and
70-80 House members from both sides of the aisle --
primarily moderate Republicans. No advertising is
currently planned. ECAP's members include the
politically known entities like AFSCME, the AFL-CIO, US
Action, and the Campaign for America's Future.
Woodhouse, Communications Director
Americans United to Protect Social Security
202-955-1002 ext 153
202-251-5669 - cell
Signs the Bush Social Security Plan Is Dead (for
By Jill Barshay and
Alex Wayne, CQ Staff
CQ WEEKLY – VANTAGE POINT
Oct. 10, 2005
10. Rick Santorum, the
No. 3 Senate GOP leader, is offering a bill to
guarantee seniors their promised Social Security
9. Jerry Weller, an
influential House Ways and Means Committee
Republican, says he’d oppose legislation that would
use the Social Security surplus to establish
individual accounts for workers.
8. Thomas M. Reynolds,
the chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign
organization, is urging that the Social Security
debate be postponed until after the 2006 election.
7. GOP strategist
Grover Norquist predicts that what will become known
as “W accounts” will materialize — but not until
after George W. Bush has left the presidency.
6. House Ways and
Means Chairman Bill Thomas is no longer promising to
move an omnibus “retirement security” bill this
5. Senate Finance
Committee Republicans haven’t discussed the topic
together since July 14.
4. President Bush
hasn’t held an attendance-restricted "conversation"
on Social Security since July 22.
3. The AARP has
shelved a new round of advertising to lampoon the
accounts idea; it will spend the money promoting the
new Medicare prescription drug benefit.
2. GOP Sen. George V.
Voinovich has resurrected the term "lockbox" to
describe the Social Security trust funds.
1. Brad Woodhouse,
overcaffeinated spokesman for Americans United to
Protect Social Security, now sends out just eight
e-mails a day — significantly down from his