The overwhelming House vote last week to give patients in managed-care plans a right to sue plans that deny them medical care was a low point indeed for folks at the National Association of Manufacturers--at least judging from their lobbyists' internal e-mail.
"There's no joy in Mudville," shell-shocked NAM lobbyist Patrick Cleary wrote some 150 lobbyists and benefits managers in the Health Care Coordinating Group a few hours after the White House-backed bill passed by "the incredible margin of 275-151."
No time to mince words. "This sucks, gang," Cleary said, "but I am enormously proud of the work that was done by so many of you."
The House-Senate conference--the Senate bill does not have a similar provision--"will be a train wreck, very contentious," he predicted. "We intend to make good on our promise, if this thing ever gets enacted and if costs increase as a result, to urge our member companies to get their employees to call the Members of Congress who voted for this thing and voice their displeasure. We are undaunted--bloodied, maybe, but unbowed."
NAM director of employment policy Neil Trautwein's e-mail the next morning continued the stirring cliches: "Subject: Beaten But Not Broken."
"There was clearly some piling on at the end," Trautwein observed, "but a lot more members who just don't get it. As we gear up for conference, we'll have a lot of work to do shoring up queasy Senate members and a lot of work re-educating these recalcitrant members that it is our health care they're endangering. Talk about thick-headed!"
So, Trautwein concluded, "in the immortal words of (John Paul Jones?)--I have not yet begun to fight!"
Cleary chipped in later Friday that they would be "fighting this thing in conference, making sure liability," meaning the expanded rights to sue employers and HMOs that deny needed treatment, "never sees the light of day." The lobbyists will "spend next week communicating with NAM members in the targeted districts, to let them know how their Members of Congress voted. We will not be shy about that."
We will fight on the beaches. . . . It's not over till it's over. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Don't vote till you see the whites of their envelopes.
Not to miss American University's Nov. 4 "Gala Celebration and Fundraiser for Scholarships" on the 20th anniversary of the school's Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies. Center Director James A. Thurber says there will be cocktails followed by "six intimate dinners hosted by well-known political observers," including Rob Engel of the Democratic National Committee and Democratic fund-raiser Terry McAuliffe, who will talk about "Getting Out the Message and the Vote and Raising Funds to Do It."
Democratic strategist Anita Dunn will talk about "How a Fundamental Tenant of the Bradley Campaign Was Shaped by an AU Seminar."
Fundamental tenants are the hardest to shape.
Bumps in the Road to Nashville
There was talk last week that the Gore campaign's move to Nashville would leave many people in the dust. The math indicates there should be a few jobs to be had, but perhaps not all that many. Job seekers should double-check before filling that gas tank for the long drive.
Of the 190 or so people working on the campaign, 75 are out in the field working in the early primary states. An additional 41 in fund-raising, which is winding down here, are expected to leave anyway. That leaves 74 people for the 65 likely spots in the Nashville operation.
Some top aides have not been invited to go to Nashville. And others, such as deputy press secretary Roger Salazar, who has two young children, can't go for family reasons. Campaign press secretary Kiki Moore, who has been asked to go and would like to do so, is trying to work out the details.
Jonathan M. Winer, deputy assistant secretary of state for law enforcement in the international narcotics and law enforcement bureau (better known as Drugs 'n' Thugs), is heading to private law practice after five years in the job. Winer, a former aide to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), is moving next month to the local office of Atlanta's Alston & Bird, focusing on high-tech, telecommunications and financial services matters.
Monica Medina, a former Army captain, deputy assistant attorney general and most recently general counsel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has gone private, practicing environmental law at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe.
On the Senate side, Nicholas J. Graham, formerly at the National Republican Senatorial Committee and now communications director for Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), is heading to America Online Inc. in Dulles to be director of communications. John J. Goodman, who has been deputy communications director in the Providence office, will move up to the directorship but continue to work in Rhode Island.
Ivan Schlager, chief of staff for the Democrats on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, is leaving to be counsel in the D.C. office of New York's very-deep-pocketed Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.