The Moose fears that the Ways and Means Committee Chairman may get the boot at the Black Tie and Boots Inaugural Ball.
Congressman Thomas is the skunk at the President's inauguration. Imagine the rage over at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. when they received the early edition of the Washington Post with this article on the front page above the fold - New Doubts On Plan For Social Security - House Republican Says Bush Plan Is Doomed, Seeks Review of System
"House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-Calif.) predicted yesterday that partisan warfare over Social Security will quickly render President Bush's plan "a dead horse" and called on Congress to undertake a broader review of the problems of an aging nation.
"Thomas, one of Capitol Hill's most powerful figures on tax policy, is the highest-ranking House Republican official to cast doubt on the president's plan for creating individual investment accounts. He said that as an alternative, he will consider changes such as replacing the payroll tax as Social Security's financing mechanism and adding a savings plan for long-term or chronic care as "an augmentation to Social Security payments."
The Moose has sensed increasing Republican apprehension and anxiety over the President's privatization scheme. Last week, the Moose described the various GOP social security factions.
Count the all-important Ways and Means Chair as in the camp of the naysayers, at least for now. It would have been great to listen in on the phone call that must have come from Chief of Staff Card to Chairman Thomas. Surely, the oh so timid and even-tempered Thomas gave as good as he got.
While the Republicans are loyal to the President, they are not suicidal. The underlying Capitol Hill dynamic is that Republican Members of Congress recognize that while the President will not be on the ballot again, they will. Apart from the ideologues, GOPers are not going to go out on a legislative limb for the President and sacrifice their majority. They witnessed the Democrats do that a decade ago.
Thomas' comments and Republican divisions should not prompt Democratic complacency. But, GOPs may want to thoroughly enjoy their fancy parties this week. Those may be the last celebrations they enjoy for a while.