John Podesta and Mark Penn

John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress,and Democratic pollster Mark Penn of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, were Wednesday's guests. Here are excerpts from their remarks:

On expectations that the House will vote to repeal inheritance taxes permanently:

(Podesta) "One has to give credit to a triumph of public relations over sound economics or a real sense of fairness in this country."

On the political dynamics surrounding President Bush's campaign to reform Social Security:

(Penn) "He may be right in saying he was hitting the third rail of politics.... They either have to figure out a new way to change the dynamic, which they have done in the past, or they could be facing some pretty grim [midterm elections next year]. At some point, Republicans are going to start to notice this."

On Democrats' need to offer specific policy alternatives:

(Podesta) "Ultimately, people want to know what are you going to try to do to help them lead better lives.... I think they would be [well-served] to put some of those ideas out on the table and embrace the need for tackling some of the important issues."

On Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate:

(Penn) "She has a tremendous amount of enthusiasm among Democrats. She has a unique ability ... to generate tremendous enthusiasm.... And if hard-core Republicans don't like her, and you call that polarizing, then every candidate in America is polarizing."

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