January 1, 2005

RAINMAKER:

A Big Push On Social Security: Private Accounts Are Bush Priority (Jim VandeHei, January 1, 2005, Washington Post)

President Bush's political allies are raising millions of dollars for an election-style campaign to promote private Social Security accounts, as Democrats and Republicans prepare for what they predict will be the most expensive and extensive public policy debate since the 1993 fight over the Clinton administration's failed health care plan.

With Bush planning to unveil the details of his Social Security plan this month, several GOP groups close to the White House are asking the same donors who helped reelect Bush to fund an extensive campaign to convince Americans -- and skeptical lawmakers -- that Social Security is in crisis and that private accounts are the only cure.

Progress for America, an independent conservative group that backed Bush in the campaign, has set aside about $9 million to support the president's Social Security plan as well as other White House domestic priorities in the new year, said spokesman Brian McCabe. The group is asking its donors for much more, he said.

Stephen Moore, head of the conservative Club for Growth, has raised $1.5 million and hopes to hit a $15 million target when his fundraising drive ends.

But their contributions are likely to be dwarfed by those from corporate trade associations, spearheaded by the National Association of Manufacturers. Other likely contributors include the financial services and securities industries and other Fortune 500 companies, GOP officials say. White House officials, led by Karl Rove and Charles P. Blahous III, the president's policy point man on Social Security, are helping to shape the public relations campaign, said the officials, who talked about private discussions with the White House on the condition of anonymity.

"It could easily be a $50 million to $100 million cost to convince people this is legislation that needs to be enacted," Moore said. "It's going to be expensive" because "it's the most important public policy fight in 25 years," he said.


And, especially given the success the President and Senate candidates (including Elizabeth Dole, who's running the Senate campaign) have had running on the issue, it's an ideal fund-raising tool for the '06 mid-term.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2005 9:06 PM
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