Dispatches > The Buzz

Flash Traffic

Political buzz from Washington

Issue: "Summer Travel 2001," May 12, 2001

President Bush announced his bipartisan Social Security reform commission on May 2 amid fierce attacks by liberals that personal retirement accounts for young people could threaten the financial security of seniors ... but White House officials are encouraged by a new poll by United Seniors Association, which finds that 57 percent of seniors think personal accounts are "very important" to give their children and grandchildren a "better, more secure retirement with a higher return on their retirement investments" ... as long as they, too, get a "better deal" ... Speculation is percolating among political insiders that former Sen. Bob Kerrey, the Nebraska Democrat, was slated to be the Bush Commission's co-chairman ... Kerrey has been telling friends recently that he wanted to participate ... but the political firestorm that erupted concerning Kerrey's Vietnam raid in 1969 (WORLD, May 5-and see page 8, this issue) was too much for a White House wary of lightning rods ... the pro-privatization Kerrey was replaced at the last moment by former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the New York Democrat ... Gearing up for a major outreach to black Americans, President Bush also named Richard Parsons as a co-chairman ... Parsons is black, a baby boomer, and a Republican ... he's also the co-chief operating officer of AOL Time Warner ... one surprise commissioner: Black Entertainment Television CEO Robert Johnson-a liberal Democrat-who feels passionately about wealth creation for minorities, particularly for black men whose average life expectancy is less than 65 years ... indeed, pro-partial privatization minorities and women are well represented on the 16-member commission: blacks (3), Hispanics (2), women (4) ... Syl Schieber, who served on President Clinton's Social Security Advisory Council, says the group is "remarkably well-crafted" ... Cato's Mike Tanner says he's impressed that "there's a substantial number of people on this commission interested in wealth creation, not simply keeping the system [financially] solvent" ... Communist China is under serious consideration by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2008 Olympic Games ... the IOC will decide soon and announce its decision July 13 during an IOC meeting in Moscow ... but should China get the Games, even if the decision is perceived as tacitly rewarding a government known for the 1989 Tiananman Square massacre, history of religious persecution, forced abortions, and unjustified attack on a U.S. Navy plane? ... would denying China the Games seem petty and miss the point when tougher sanctions-aimed more at the government rather than the Chinese people and their national identity-aren't being applied? ... it's a question IOC officials, U.S. leaders, and China critics will consider in the coming weeks ... other candidates for the 2008 games are Toronto, Paris, Istanbul, and Osaka, Japan ... Forbes for Senate? ... New Jersey's Democratic Sen. Robert Torricelli is under intense fire for possible ethics violations and looks vulnerable in 2002 ... a Republican pickup of this seat is critical to keeping control of the Senate ... but the GOP's favorite candidate, former Rep. Bob Franks-who narrowly lost last year to Democrat Jon Corzine-just jumped out of the Senate race and into New Jersey's increasingly bizarre governor's race (see last week's Flash Traffic) ... now the buzz is that Steve Forbes, a New Jersey native, might take on Torricelli ... so suggests a front-page story in The Hill, a Washington-based newspaper ... Forbes-whose signature issues of tax cuts and investment-based Social Security reform dominate the debate in Washington right now-isn't talking publicly ... friends say the speculation is premature ... Forbes is merely "considering whether to consider" the race ... for now he's running his Forbes magazine, which is poised to launch a new TV show-"Forbes on Fox"-May 12, hosted by David Asman ...

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Joel C. Rosenberg
Joel C. Rosenberg


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