On a conference call with bloggers, Nancy Pelosi urged Dems to fashion their response to Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposals on the Democratic Party’s successful defeat of Social Security privatization, and made a critical point: Dems succeeded in 2005 because they did not take the GOP’s bait by offering their own plan to “fix” Social Security.
Pelosi — who is widely viewed as the person most responsible for ensuring that Dems drew a hard line against Bush’s privatization proposals — said that so doing would have persuaded people that there must have been something wrong with Social Security that needed fixing. She suggested that Dems should keep that message in mind as they prepare to do battle over Ryan’s Medicare proposals.
“We got criticized for it, but it was the most important thing,” Pelosi said. “We couldn’t have our own proposal on Social Security because it would confuse the public.”
Pelosi said that so doing would have meant Dems were “conceding there must be some big problem.” She characterized the Dem message at the time as follows: “We have a proposal on the table: It’s called `Social Security.’ The President has something on the table: It’s called `privatization.’”
As Paul Krugman noted the other day, the key to the Dems’ victory in 2005 was that Pelosi...
never bought into either the crisis-mongering or the Beltway desire to prove oneself “serious” by courageously agreeing to hurt ordinary Americans to make the nation safe for high-end tax cuts. She maintained a steely resolve: this privatization shall not pass.
Pelosi has now confirmed as much on the conference call.
To be sure, as Atrios notes today, Pelosi will not have the central messaging role in this fight that she did in the last one. For all the sound and fury coming from the White House and Democrats about Ryan’s proposal, we simply can’t know how much ground they’ll give when negotiations over the fate of Medicare begin in earnest.
But we can be sure that if Pelosi had her way, the Dem response right now and in coming months would be this:
“We have a proposal on the table. It’s called `Medicare.’ Republicans have something on the table. It’s called privatization.”