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Daily Briefing: The Drama of the Gifted President

Reid announces he has enough votes to block Bush's Social Security plan: "President Bush should forget about privatizing Social Security. It will not happen." [WP, WSJ, LAT, LAT, WP, NYT]


In SOTU, Bush to celebrate spreading democracy, call for budget discipline and action on Social Security. [WP, NYT, USAT, WT]

Dean presumed to win DNC chairmanship; Frost ends quest: "The challenge ahead for Governor Dean will be to unite the party, rebuild the DNC and win elections in every region of the country." [WP, NYT, LAT, WSJ, WT]

And so much more below the fold.

DHS stricken with infighting, dysfunction, bottlenecks. Former inspector general on ineffectiveness: "I don't know where to start. . . I've never seen anything like it." [WP]

Republican agenda, starting with tort reform, designed for long-term drain of Democrats, from financing to turnout. Reich: "If the Republicans can destroy Social Security, if they can privatize it out of existence, then they remove a key foundation stone for a philosophy of governance which says we're all in it together." [LAT]

Chertoff gave conflicting responses about interrogations of John Walker Lindh. [WP]

Frist works in a pressure cooker: "I've got 750 days left, and in those 750 days I've got an agenda that can be historic, working with this president and with 55 Republican senators, and to accomplish that, every day that goes by is a day lost." Reid: "We're not going to have the nuclear option one day, and kiss and hug the next." [NYT]

Leavitt believes $60b can be safely reduced from Medicaid: "Medicaid is not meeting its potential. It is rigidly inflexible and inefficient. And, worst of all, it is not financially sustainable." [WP, NYT, WSJ]

Republicans may break deadlock over "Clear Skies" proposal by holding Senate vote. [WSJ]

Burgeoning elderly population worldwide challenges resources, healthcare. [WP]

Outgoing Ashcroft defends policies and tactics. [WP, LAT]

Bush proposes dropping operating subsidies for Amtrak. [NYT]

Clinton named UN special envoy to tsunami region. [NYT]

Bush wants to increase Pell Grants, somehow. [WSJ]

Kerry transfers $4m to Senate campaign account. [WP]

DeWine seeks answers from CIA regarding Nazi files. [NYT]

Sharansky: "[N]ow the president is viewed as an astronaut, way out in space. And they want me to explain how it looks from out there!" [NYT]

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