DeLay's private speech on Social Security was turning point
The Washington Post "discovered" a 104-page campaign blueprint left behind in West Virginia after the Republican House members met in private with President Bush last week. The blueprint outlined how privatization supporters would attempt to shift the debate on Social Security to more favorable territory.
Following the congressional retreat, House Republicans are more optimistic about taking the issue forward, and those in attendance singled out Tom DeLay's speech as the turning point:
Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who as majority whip is the House's chief vote counter, said that during the retreat, members went "from being cautious to being cautiously optimistic" about passing Social Security legislation this year. He acknowledged that in taking on an issue that has been a strength of Democrats for generations, the GOP is "way out there beyond our defenses."
"We realize that almost everything has to go right to get this done," Blunt said. "This is such a hard thing to do that it wouldn't take much for us to not be able to do it. We absolutely couldn't even consider it if we didn't have the president's total commitment to do everything he can do to lead this debate."
Lawmakers said a turning point came Friday when House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), who has been leery of taking on Social Security, argued that the caucus had a "moral obligation" to do so.
During the three-day gathering at the Greenbrier resort, Republicans resolved to devote hundreds of town meetings and PowerPoint presentations to Social Security in their states and districts.