- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mumms is on ice

“Please accept this bottle of champagne as a token of our esteem for your effort to move the dialogue away from privatization and towards the issue of solvency — which privatization does not address.”

So reads the note attached to a bottle of Andre champagne, shipped this week to Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, compliments of Brad Woodhouse, who left the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) to become spokesman for Americans United to Protect Social Security.

Our first question to Mr. Woodhouse yesterday: “Couldn’t you guys do better than a bottle of Andre?” (Andre Champagne Extra Dry: $3.49)

“Maybe when President Bush pulls his privatization plan off the table we can send a good bottle to the senator. What’s a good one, Mumms?” asks Mr. Woodhouse. “Two weeks ago, we didn’t have carpet in this office. Our desks look a little bit better than sawhorses.”

Not for lack of support.

The new nonprofit grass-roots organization, operating with millions of dollars in seed money and contributions from the likes of the AFL-CIO and everyday Americans, is led by Democratic campaign veterans Paul Tewes, former political director of the DSCC, and Steve Hildebrand, who didn’t fare as well running the unsuccessful 2004 re-election campaign of former Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota.

Americans United is buoyed of late by a still-emerging split in the Republican Party over Mr. Bush’s Social Security partial-privatization drive.

“I am not surprised,” says Mr. Woodhouse. “When people hear the pros and cons of Social Security privatization they react negatively to the president’s proposal. Social Security represents the foundation of retirement security for most Americans, and it should be shored up, rather than replaced with a privatization scheme that is really untried and untested — and which would require steep benefit cuts and massive new national debt and … an almost certain additional tax burden on Americans.”

Nation’s nurse

It’s back to work for Hadassah Lieberman, wife of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who tells Inside the Beltway she’s joining Hill & Knowlton’s Washington office as senior counselor in its health and pharmaceuticals practice.

(But not before we found her at home yesterday preparing a London broil and bean- soup lunch for 20 teenagers attending her daughter’s 17th birthday party).

“I want to be where the action is,” says Mrs. Lieberman, who hopes to draw on her political experience in concentrating on health care policy and public health initiatives. Since the 2004 presidential campaign, she’s remained active on the speakers’ circuit addressing women’s health and politics.

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