Well, it's unclear yet how great an impact the Foley mess will have on GOP chances of retaining Congress. I'm hopeful that this might in fact, blow over quickly, and allow Republicans to return to discussing their strengths: economic growth and the War on Terror. If that happens, I think they have a fair chance of retaining their majorities. For that reason, I question whether it's wise for Dennis Hastert and other Congressional Republicans to try to turn the Foley affair into a weapon against Democrats; it's probably better to just move on.
And on a related point, Novak is, as always, worth a read. First off, he notes that the first indication is that the Foley scandal is not necessarily electoral death for the Republicans:
A footnote: Pollster John Zogby last week found no landslide effects of the Foley scandal. Democrats did lead the Reuters/Zogby polls in 11 out of 15 key House districts held by endangered Republicans. Democrats may have to win all 15 of those districts to be assured of ousting Republicans from House control. Democratic leads shown by Zogby were generally not of landslide proportions, and there was no immediate upsurge in Democratic strength as news coverage of the scandal intensified.
Also, he points out that several moderate former Democratic representatives are lobbying to keep Social Security reform 'on the table' for Bush's last two years in office:
Two moderate former Democratic congressmen -- Tim Penny of Minnesota and Charlie Stenholm of Texas -- are spearheading a campaign against organized labor's determination to fight any reform of Social Security.
The labor-sponsored Americans United to Protect Social Security has pressed Democratic candidates for Congress to join "a golden promise" against anything approaching President Bush's proposed Social Security reform.
A Sept. 26 "For Our Grandchildren" letter, signed by Penny and Stenholm, rejects the argument that Social Security does not need fixing. They contend its "financial outlook is deteriorating." While not advocating specific options, they call for bipartisan reform.
'Saving Social Security' is always going to be difficult in a government united under one party. Why would the loyal opposition choose to lend credibility to a reform plan that by its nature had to disappoint many people? It's far more advantageous politically to snipe. That's certainly one reason that Bush's efforts have failed so far: good policy and saving Social Security were not important enough to Democrats to overcome political calculation.
Well, if Democrats retake one or more Houses of Congress, it could be that both the GOP and the Democrats see the advantage in taking Social Security off the table before the 2008 campaign. After all, it's unclear which party would gain more from such a debate, as the growth in the investor class lends more support to the GOP side of the debate. Would Speaker Pelosi (and Majority Leader Reid?) join President Bush in a plan to save Social Security and take it out of the mix of 2008 issues? They might, particularly considering it could be the last chance to address the issue until the second term of whoever is elected President in 2008. For those who support Social Security, each year that passes without addressing the problems in the program, guarantees a harsher solution.
On the other hand, if Republicans retain the Congress with narrow majorities, Social Security reform is likely dead for a few years, anyway. The hand of those who want to eviscerate the program will definitely be strengthened.
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