Monday, March 21, 2005

Hammering Social Security

I'm about 3/4 of the way through reading Lou Dubose and Jan Reid's, The Hammer: Tom DeLay: God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress, published in 2004.

In the discussion of how DeLay has bullied corporations to dismiss lobbyists that oppose him and hire lobbyists who will help him further his and Grover Norquist's "revolutionary" agenda to remake American society, I unexpectedly found this quote from Washington Monthly's Nick Confessore explaining why, in 2003, DeLay's political machine pressured the Investment Company Institute (ICI) to marginalize its top lobbyist, Julie Domenick:

For years, conservatives have been pushing to divert part of Social Security into private investment accounts. Such a move, GOP operatives argued, would provide millions of new customers and potentially trillions of dollars to the mutual fund industry that would manage the private accounts. The profits earned would, of course, be shared with the GOP in the form of campaign contributions. In other words, by sluicing the funds collected by the federal government's largest social insurance program through businesses loyal to the GOP, the party would instantly convert the crown jewels of Democratic governance into a pillar of the new Republican machine. But to make the plan a reality, the GOP needed groups like the ICI to get behind the idea -- by funding pro-privatization think tanks, running issue ads attacking anti-privtization Democrats, and so on. The ICI, however, had always been lukewarm to privatization, for which conservatives blamed Domenick. Hence, the GOP machine decided she had to go. In the end, to quell the Oxley scandal, Domenick was allowed to keep her job. But ICI hired a former general counsel to Newt Gingrich to work alongside her, and the GOP's campaign to get K Street behind Social Security privatization continues.

Everyone knows how the Bush administration has pushed privatization since the book was written. What I didn't know was how some in the investment community had to be bullied into supporting privatization.

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