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Pledge of Allegiance

It’s pledge drive season again! And this time everybody’s getting in on the action. Matthew Baldwin sneaks into the studio and watches as those Social Security reforms take on an entirely different medium.

Cheney: …again are 227-6342, or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS.

Bush: And I’m not seeing those phones light up, Dick. It looks like we’ve hit a lull.

Cheney: I know why. I know what people are thinking. They’re thinking, “Oh, I’ll call later,” or, “I’ll let some other congressman, you know, pick up the phone and call.” We need—

Bush: You’re that congressman.

Cheney: Exactly. We need you to be that congressman, to be the one who says, “Hey, you know what? This is some legislation I can get behind. This is—I want this reform to pass, I care about the future of this country. I’m going to be the one to call up and pledge my support.”

Bush: 227-6342. Or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS.

Cheney: Or you can pledge online at dubya-dubya-dubya dot whitehouse dot gov slash pledge.

Bush: And let’s talk, um, take a minute to remind folks why this crisis—why it’s important that they give us a call in this time of crisis.

Cheney: Well, I think you said it right there, George: It’s a crisis. People are living longer and therefore drawing benefits longer, and right now, you know, only three workers are paying in per beneficiary. In 2018, the system will be paying out more than it takes in. By 2042 the entire system will be exhausted and bankrupt.

Bush: Exhausted and bankrupt.

Cheney: And that’s why we need personal accounts, we need to reform Social Security. It’s urgent.

Bush: It’s critic- uh… critically… Urgently critical.

Cheney: It’s urgently critical. But we can’t do it without your help.

Bush: 227-6342 is the number to call. Or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS. And the phones aren’t ringing, Dick. It’s not—I’m afraid we’re going to miss our goal.

Cheney: We need to hit our goal of 218 representatives to get this through the House. Sixty senators to overcome a Senate filibuster. We’re close, George, but “close” isn’t enough to pass this much-needed reform.

Bush: And let’s remember that we have, you know, political capital. A mandate to pass this.

Cheney: That’s right, George. The people of this great nation gave us a mandate. If they could vote for this legislation they would—they said that loud and clear when they reelected us. But they can’t—only you can. It’s your duty as civil servants to pass this Social Security reform before the system implodes.

Bush: 227-6342, or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS.

Cheney: And let’s remember that this is just the latest in a series of great initiatives of this administration. We brought you No Child Left Behind… we brought you the Healthy Forests Act… we brought you the Department of Homeland Security—

Bush: The No Gay Marriage amendment, uh, thing.

Cheney: The Marriage Protection Amendment, uh-huh. The Iraq War, let’s not forget that. Freedom is on the march throughout the Middle East—

Bush: We did that.

Cheney: We brought you Missile, uhm. We’re working on Missile Defense…

Bush: Lots of tax cuts.

Cheney: These are the kinds of great things you’ve come to expect from this presidency. And maybe you’ve taken them for granted.

Bush: I hope not.

Cheney: I hope not, too, George. But we’re going to miss our goal unless our legislators, the ones who haven’t called to pledge their support, say, you know, “Isn’t it time I gave a little something back to this administration that has given me—given America—so much?”

Bush: 227-6342, or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS.

Cheney: We’ve got Bill Frist and Tom DeLay here—they have generously offered to take time out of their busy schedules and man the phones today. But still, we seem to have hit a lull. The phones just aren’t ringing.

Bush: Dick, let’s read some of those emails we’ve gotten from congressmen who have already pledged.

Cheney: Great idea George. All right, let’s see… Here we go. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa writes, “Hey, guys, longtime fan of your policies, so you can count on me to vote in favor of private accounts for Social Security. We all know the system will be bankrupt in a few years—no one has seriously disputed that fact—so pledging my support is the least I can do.” Thanks a lot, Charlie, we really appreciate that.

Bush: Here’s another. “Every time I hear you trying to drum up support for legislation I always think, ‘I’ll pledge next time, next time.’ Well this time is next time. I don’t want senior citizens eating dog food or to be too poor to go to the casino, so I’m with you all the way on this one. Keep on rockin’ in the free world, Anne.”

Cheney: That’s Anne Northup, representative from Kentucky. She pledged her support. Now it’s your turn. The phone lines are open.

Bush: And remember: Everyone who pledges gets an “I fixed it!” tote bag.

Cheney: Or pledge at the Patriot level—by promising to support Social Security privatization and our next major piece of legislation, to be named later—to receive the tote bag and a John Ashcroft “Let The Eagle Soar” CD single.

Bush: Democrats who pledge at the Patriot level will be—I will mention them by name in my next State of the Union address, when I pay lip service to bipartisanship. Those numbers again: 227-6342, or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS.

Cheney: And we know some of you have concerns about private accounts. We know you’re wondering how we can afford a trillion dollars in transition costs when we already have record deficits. “Aren’t we supposed to be the party of fiscal sanity?” a lot of Republicans have asked me. Look, we’re not asking you to agree, you know, to love this legislation, to agree with it wholeheartedly. We’re just asking you to vote for it.

Bush: Think about it: You compromise your ethics in little and big ways every day up on the Hill: Taking money from corpor—from lobbyists, loading up appropriations bills up with, you know, pork for your home state. Whatever. We’re just asking you to do the same here. We’re asking you to set aside your conscience, just one more time, and pledge. We need your pledge.

Cheney: 227-6342, or toll free 1-800-ACRISIS. We need about a dozen more senators and maybe 50 representatives to meet our goal. But I’m not seeing those phones light up. I’m not hearing them ring. So won’t you call? Won’t you please call?