Daily Briefing: Social Security Plan? What Social Security Plan? Editon

White House issues six-week target to turnaround public opinion of Social Security plan; Treasury Department creates "war room" for message control. Devenish: "We'll stay focused on making sure that people understand the challenges facing the system before we move on to discussing possible solutions." [WP]


Approval of Social Security plan drops to 35% in USAT/CNN/Gallup Poll; 59% say immediate change not necessary; Bush's approval rating is 56%, compared to 75% for the AARP, and Democrats are more trusted on issue. Duffy: "More and more people are coming around to [the president's] point of view." [USAT]

Grassley says perception must warm to Social Security plan soon: "If we don't see some grass-roots organizing and change of public opinion after 90 days, it's going to discourage people in Congress from moving ahead." [NYT, LAT]

Republican Senators push for industry-influenced rewrite of personal bankruptcy rules. [WSJ]

Gov. Warner thinks Democrats can leverage message of fiscal responsibility for political gain and "build the case that the country's in need of a serious dose of reality." [WSJ]

Bush promises to cooperate with governors on Medicaid. [WP, NYT, USAT]

On Iran, Bush is in "listening" and discussion phase. [WT]

Democrats complain Social Security Administration promotes Bush policies. Waxman: "While estimates of Social Security's long-term solvency have improved over the past four years, the Social Security Administration's rhetoric has moved in the opposite direction." [USAT]

Gonzales outlines priorities: deporting illegal immigrants; green-lighting judicial nominees; advocating renewal of Patriot Act. [WP, NYT, WT]

Negroponte must first prove he holds sway. [WP]

Clinton aide calls Pataki's presidential chances "laughable." [NYT]

At the White House, new Montana Governor compares Social Security plan to a sour livestock auction. [LAT]

Key African-American organizations oppose Social Security overhaul. [USAT]

Fleischer told Bush war on terrorism is more complicated than "good versus evil." President's response: "If this isn't good versus evil, what is?" Fleischer: "I could have made a lot more money if I'd decided to write about clashes, or criticize the president, or even criticize the press more, but I chose not to." [WP]

New York Times reviews Ari Fleischer's "tedious and tendentious" book, which is released today: "It's an extended exercise in Mr. Fleischer's spinning his own earlier spin. . . that feels insular, defensive and wholly predictable." [NYT]

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