Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Attack on AARP Begins

For those wondering what shape the anti-AARP campaign will take, here's the first shot across the bow in the form of an ad on the American Spectator's website:

That's right, they're claiming that the nations largest association of retired folks hates our troops and loves same-sex marriage. What this slander has to do with the AARP's principled stand on Social Security, I have no idea. Here's a bit more about USA Next, the organization behind these attacks.

The print edition of the Sun Journal today goes into more detail (registration required) about the involvement of a firm with Maine connections. Partner Erik Potholm, originally of Harpswell, is quoted in the article.
"There is no question," said Potholm, "that the current Social Security fight may be the biggest public affairs campaign in Washington since the failed Clinton health-care plan in 1993." [...]

"When it comes to Social Security," he said, "President Bush and the Republican Congress have a much more difficult task. They must first convince people there is a problem - that's why you've seen the president travel all around the country laying out the serious challenges the current system is facing. Then, they have to convince people that reform - in whatever shape in takes - is the solution.

"The Democrats, on the other hand, have a much easier job," he continued via an e-mail interview exchange. "All they have to do is raise doubts about it. They can just be against it."

There's a danger in doing that, though.

"It is much harder to convince people to vote 'yes' than it is to vote 'no.' Of course, by not offering an alternative solution," he said, "the Democrats in Washington run the big risk of simply being seen as obstructionists, which greatly turns off voters."

He declined to discuss details of the USA Next campaign.

I love the fact that even before his firm has been officially hired for the job, Potholm is already hoping for Democrats to come up with a compromise. He realizes that the president's plan is simply unpalatable to Americans. For instance, a recent poll found that only 24% of Mainers support partial privatization. If the Democrats stick together, there will be no political cover for Republicans, and privatization will fail.

[Update] Yglesias says it better than I ever could.

As for obstructionism, the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire reports:
Fully 60%, including one-fourth of Republicans, say Democrats in Congress should make sure Bush and his party 'don't go too far.' Just 34% want Democrats to 'work in a bipartisan way' to help pass the president's priorities.

Visit the new Maine Politics.


The Washington Monthly has more on USA Next in their article "Bush's Secret Stash ":

"Then there's the benignly-named United Seniors Association (USA), which serves as a soft-money slush fund for a single GOP-friendly industry: pharmaceuticals. USA claims a nationwide network of more than one million activists, but, just like Progress for America, listed zero income from membership dues in its most recent available tax return. USA does, however, have plenty of money on its hands. During the 2002 elections, with an "unrestricted educational grant" from the drug industry burning a hole in its pocket, the group spent roughly $14 million--the lion's share of its budget--on ads defending Republican members of Congress for their votes on a Medicare prescription-drug bill. " 

Posted by Mike

2/22/2005 02:39:00 PM


Potholm is the worst of chicken hawks. He is an embarrassment to Maine. My blood boils when I hear his name - argh! 

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2/22/2005 08:55:00 PM


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10/09/2005 08:42:00 AM



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