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Reid, Pelosi Challenge Bush

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), backhandedly criticizing President Bush for holding “carefully staged and scripted” events on Social Security, have invited Bush to hold a joint town hall with them. [IMGCAP(1)]

In an April 4 letter, Reid and Pelosi cited reports that administration and local officials have ejected audience members suspected of opposing the president’s Social Security overhaul. “Despite your statements that you welcome hearing all views on this important issue, it seems increasingly clear that the vast majority of Americans who oppose your privatization plan are excluded from participating in the conversation,” the duo wrote.

Asked about the town hall proposal, White House spokesman Trent Duffy chided the Democrats for not coming forward with their own plan to overhaul Social Security. “The president would welcome a chance to discuss real solution with Democrats as soon as they have something to propose,” Duffy said.

All Together Now. The lead business group promoting President Bush’s planned Social Security overhaul has dramatically expanded its ranks.

In an ad running today in Roll Call, Generations Together boasts a roster of 116 members, most of whom joined the campaign in the past few weeks. Spokeswoman Tita Freeman called the group “a significant presence on the ground.”

The announcement is in part a thumbed nose at unions, who have used partial membership lists to target members, in some cases driving them to quit the group.

Staffers’ Views on China. While the general public and business leaders tend to have similar opinions on China, new data released Wednesday by Zogby International shows more divergent views among Congressional staffers.

The survey was completed by Zogby for the Committee of 100, a nonpartisan organization made up of Chinese American leaders.

The survey randomly sampled 1,202 adults, plus smaller numbers of business leaders and Congressional aides. A majority of each group saw U.S.-China trade positively.

However, Hill staffers were more likely to see China as an economic and military threat. On economic issues, 24 percent of the general public and 30 percent of business leaders saw China as a threat, compared to 54 percent of Hill staff. On the military question, 15 percent of the general public and 16 percent of business leaders were concerned, compared to 36 percent of Congressional staff.

— Emily Pierce, Tory Newmyer and Jennifer Lash

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